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Woman faces a year in prison for stomping a ‘Back the Blue’ sign and ‘smirking in an intimidating manner’

The woman was charged with a hate crime enhanced allegation.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Supporters of law enforcement gathered at City Hall in Salt Lake City for a rally in support of police, Saturday, June 20, 2020.

A 19-year-old woman was charged with a hate crime after allegedly “stomping on a ‘Back the Blue’ sign” at a gas station in Panguitch.

According to the affidavit of probable cause, a Garfield County police officer was conducting a traffic stop for speeding at a gas station when the officer saw a woman “stomping on a ‘Back the Blue’ sign next to where the traffic stop was conducted, crumble it up in a destructive manner and throw it into a trash can all while smirking in an intimidating manner towards me.”

The officer writes they asked the woman where she had gotten the sign, and she stated it was her mother’s. According to the affidavit, the officer told the woman that the local Sheriff’s Office produced those specific signs and that they believed “she had acquired it in our community.”

After reading the woman her Miranda rights, the officer stated she gave “inconsistent stories” about where she found the sign, eventually stating she found it on the ground.

“Due to [the woman] destroying property that did not belong to her in a manner to attempt to intimidate law enforcement, I placed her under arrest,” the affidavit says.

[Read more: The ACLU of Utah said the anti-police hate charge filing could send a message that the government will more harshly punish people who don’t support law enforcement.]

According to the affidavit, the allegations are being treated as a “hate crime enhanced allegation” due to “the demeanor displayed by [the woman] in attempts to intimidate law enforcement while destroying a ‘Pro Law Enforcement’ sign.”

The Utah Code states a person who commits any primary offense — such as misdemeanor property destruction — with the intent to “intimidate or terrorize another person or with reason to believe that his action would intimidate or terrorize that person” is subject to a class B misdemeanor primary offense becoming a class A misdemeanor.

The code also defines “intimidate or terrorize” as “an act which causes the person to fear for his physical safety or damages the property of that person or another.” According to the code, the act “must be accompanied with the intent to cause or has the effect of causing a person to reasonably fear to freely exercise or enjoy any right secured by the Constitution or laws of the state or by the Constitution or laws of the United States.”

The woman faces up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $2,500.

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