Kaysville recently threatened to turn on sprinklers at a city park to block a proposed concert with country star Colin Raye that aimed to protest and openly defy COVID-19 restrictions. So, organizers now are now planning a July 4 rally/protest there that features a water fight.
Utah Business Revival posted online that it will hold a “community independence celebration” at Barnes Park on Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that includes a water fight “in case Kaysville City turns spinklers on the gathering, as [it] threatened to do with the Colin Raye concert.”
When Eric Moutsos, organizer of the group, was asked if he obtained a reservation or permit for the event — which advertisements say will include speeches, a walking parade and a picnic inviting food trucks — he said none was needed because “we could call it a ‘protest.’”
For now, Kaysville City Manager Shane Scott says he won’t contest that, but he added the city will be watching developments closely.
He said if the event is akin to “a family reunion where they have maybe 100 people and they throw water balloons, they wouldn’t need a permit. We wouldn’t do anything about it. We would expect them to clean up after themselves and use the restrooms and things like that.”
However, last time with the Collin Raye event, Scott said thousands of people were expected at a time when such mass gatherings were banned “and concerts are specifically spelled out” as needing permits in Kaysville.
Scott notes the group is advertising another event later the same day in Orem, so the Kaysville event will likely be short.
“This seems like a situation where they may want the city to come out and fight them on it so they can get lots of nice attention,” Scott said. “But right now, we’re just not willing to do that. I’m sure we will be monitoring it, though.”
He said the city for perhaps the first time ever had planned to allow many of its police officers to take July 4 off, but now will likely have to call many of them back to monitor the event.
“That’s unfortunate,” he said. “I don’t know what they are protesting exactly, but they have the right to assemble … in a public space, as long as they follow the laws. And we’ll make sure that they do, but we’re also not trying to give it too much attention.”
The first controversy over the concert received national attention, in part because Mayor Katie Witt — who is running for Congress in the 1st Congressional District — supported the concert and pushed for lifting COVID-19 restrictions, as her opponents called it political grandstanding that threatened the health of residents.
The Kaysville City Council managed to block the concert by threatening to cut power to the park and turn on sprinklers there — and issued a letter of censure to the mayor.
Moutsos next tried to move the concert to an amphitheater in Grantsville, but Tooele County also refused to give it a permit and obtained court injunctions to block it as a threat to public health that aimed to defy COVID-19 restrictions then in place.
Finally, it successfully moved to Cedar City as stricter COVID-19 restrictions eased — and Raye played to a large crowd that included Witt and Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.
Utah Business Revival has sponsored other protests against COVID-19 restrictions, plus a recent “Blue Lives Matter” protest in support of police in Salt Lake City.