Utah Senate leaders call for civility after man was removed from a committee hearing in handcuffs

The same man was charged for being disruptive at a public hearing in the past.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Supporters of HB60 were told to peel off stickers showing support for the measure during House floor time at the Capitol prior to the bill's passage, Feb. 22, 2022. HB60 blocks private businesses from requiring proof of vaccination for customers and employees.

Utah Senate leaders expressed regret Wednesday afternoon following Tuesday’s raucous committee meeting that resulted in an audience member being hauled out in handcuffs.

As the Senate Business and Labor Committee started debating HB60, which would ban vaccine passports in Utah, committee chair Sen. Dan McCay, R-Riverton, told the large crowd in attendance to remove stickers that said, “Vote yes on HB60.” One man refused and was removed from the room in handcuffs.

A similar situation played out when the bill came up for debate in the House when security made supporters in the gallery remove similar stickers.

“That shouldn’t have happened, and we’re reviewing what we’re doing, and we hope to get better,” Senate President Stuart Adams, R-Layton, said of the handcuffing.

Senate Minority Whip Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, applauded the efforts from Capitol security to keep everyone safe.

“No one was following instructions. There was a lot of screaming, and a lot of words were being exchanged. It was really difficult, but those are very rare situations,” Escamilla said.

Senate Majority Leader Evan Vickers said it’s crucial to maintain decorum no matter how heated a debate may become.

“We go back and forth, but the dialogue needs to be respectful. We just ask the public to be respectful in that process. Sometimes when emotion gets high, that presents a challenge, but it’s important to be respectful of each other,” Vickers said.

KUTV reported that Utah Highway Patrol cited the man taken into custody for disrupting a public meeting, which is a Class B misdemeanor.

In August, the same man was charged and found guilty of criminal trespass by the Davis School District in relation to disrupting a public meeting. In response, the man filed a federal civil rights complaint against several members of the Davis School Board for more than $600 million.

The man did not respond to a request for comment.