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Retired Utahn faces jury trial to fight citations sparked by dancing in public

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Posted at 9:00 PM, Oct 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-14 23:00:17-04

HOLLADAY, Utah -- Is dancing in public illegal? That’s the issue being asked in Holladay Justice Court Wednesday after a 68-year-old man was cited on several charges  in August after he began dancing on a sidewalk.

Wednesday, Steve Unger pleaded not guilty at a hearing at Holladay Justice Court.

The retired anesthesiologist, who is a well-known character in his home town of Holladay, is facing three charges stemming from an incident over the summer.

Back on August 24, Unger was getting his car repaired in Cottonwood Heights and decided to start dancing to pass the time.

If you live or work in Holladay, you would know that’s normal for Unger. The Vietnam veteran is known for his creative dance routines, and you can usually find him in the center of town around 2300 East, dancing and waving to people driving by.

But the routine was not welcomed in Cottonwood Heights.

After a complaint from drivers, police approached Unger, and they say he was uncooperative at that time. He was then charged with disorderly conduct, failure to identify himself, and interference with a police officer.

Unger said they are charges that he plans to fight in front of a jury.

“I want a jury of my peers to say, ‘What you’re doing is wrong.’ And, obviously, a jury of my peers isn’t going to feel that way,” Unger said.

Robby Russo, Chief of the Cottonwood Heights Police Department, spoke about the incident.

“Police have a right to, if they’re called to a situation where people think are dangerous, we have a right to explore that situation and identify who you are, so we just need people to cooperate with that,” he said.

There has been an outpouring of support for Unger, and several people showed up at the hearing Wednesday. A Facebook page has even been created to support him.

It’s clear this fight is far from over, and the preliminary hearing is set for November 18.