Salt Lake City’s police chief and public officials elsewhere have suggested that the activists turning peaceful protests into destructive demonstrations have been “outsiders” taking advantage of the rallies.
In Utah’s capital, at least, there’s little evidence so far to support that.
Only two of those arrested in Saturday’s protests at Washington Square, which surrounds City Hall, and the Utah Capitol are from out of state, according to the city’s police department and a review of public records.
Another 35 people arrested Saturday are from the Wasatch Front, The Salt Lake Tribune has found.
Salt Lake City police said 46 protesters were arrested. The newspaper was unable to find addresses for three of them. At least six others have not been identified in jail or court records.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown suggested Sunday that at least some of the more confrontational demonstrators came from outside Utah.
On Monday, a department spokesman offered a clarification. Sgt. Keith Horrocks described his boss’s description as “an early statement” based on suspicion.
“It was something we were considering and looking at,” Horrocks said. “And now, looking at the addresses, it looks like they are all from Utah, except the one from Wyoming.”
The Tribune could not find a record confirming the person from Wyoming. The newspaper did find one arrestee with an address in Grand Rapids, Mich.
That 21-year-old suspect turned himself in Sunday for what he said was a role in flipping a police car in front of the city’s Main Library, according to jail documents. He was booked into the Salt Lake County jail on suspicion of criminal mischief, rioting and threatening violence against police.
Ground zero for Saturday’s unrest was the area around the library, Washington Square and City Hall near the intersection of 400 South and 200 East.
Brown has hardly been alone in casting a finger at people who may not live in his city or county. Mayors and police chiefs from Miami to Chicago have accused outsiders of traveling to their cities to make trouble. The Detroit police chief accused “professional protesters” of entering his city to riot.
Of the 35 Utahns arrested Saturday night or early Sunday, all but two lived in Salt Lake County, according to public records. One man lives in Clearfield; another has an address in Roy.
In the vast majority of arrests, the suspects refused to leave Washington Square or, farther north, the Capitol after police began enforcing an 8 p.m. curfew, jail records show. They were booked for “failure to disperse,” a misdemeanor. A prosecutor will have to decide whether to proceed with charges.
One of those arrested for failing to disperse, a 19-year-old Salt Lake City woman, said she was only trying to be a human barrier between police and people of color who were protesting. The woman describes herself as an activist and asked not to be identified for fear of online harassment.
“I wanted to protect those who felt this protest was the only way they could be heard,” she said Monday.
Officers restrained her with plastic ties and took her to the Davis County jail in Farmington, which was helping to process those protesters. She was released without bail. She said a 14-year-old girl was also tied and detained, but officers let her go when they realized her age.
One person was arrested for allegedly kicking a state trooper, according to jail records. Two people were arrested and accused of throwing rocks through the window of the Matheson Courthouse across the street from City Hall.
The tally of those arrested doesn’t include perhaps the most-discussed episode of Saturday’s protests, one captured on video and shared on social media. Brandon McCormick is accused of driving his car into a crowd of demonstrators and then pointing a bow and arrow at people. Protesters began assaulting McCormick and burned his car.
Police came to McCormick’s aid while he was being beaten. He was not arrested at the time. Brown has said the man’s wielding of a bow and arrow was “troubling” and a “horrible situation.” Prosecutors are considering charges against him.
Widely shared video also showed a Salt Lake City police officer pushing down a senior citizen walking with a cane, a response that Brown called “inappropriate” and Mayor Erin Mendenhall said seemed to stretch “well outside of protocol.””
Horrocks said that officer, who has not been named, has been removed from field assignments and is working in the office pending a review.
Salt Lake City police also have asked the public to step forward with any video or witness accounts of Saturday’s destructive or violent clashes. Horrocks said the public has provided “some good intel” on those who flipped the patrol car.
Protesters and witnesses also have been encouraged to file complaints if they observed police officers doing something inappropriate Saturday. Horrocks said a few complaints had been filed — he did not know the exact number — mostly over the episode with the officer and the senior citizen.