SALT LAKE CITY -- The Salt Lake City Police Department has begun to release body camera video from Tuesday night’s inland port protest.
One of the clips released on Thursday shows officers telling protesters to leave the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce building, as they peacefully protested on private property.
Moments later, things became chaotic and violent.
“Numerous times, we began to talk and have dialogue with those protestors,” said Chief Mike Brown of SLCPD. “Our officers were spit on, scratched, kicked, punched.”
Carlos Martinez, an organizer with Rose Park Brown Berets, accused police of escalating the violence.
“They may have individually told people to leave, but there was no united dispersal to leave the lobby,” he said. “We have gone through the civil process of raising our hand, waiting our turn, being in a place where we can discuss ideas, and that's gotten us nowhere. Absolutely nowhere."
Damage to property
Various community organizers attended a press conference on Thursday morning to tell their side of the story. They objected to Governor Gary Herbert's characterization of the protest as "borderline terrorism."
"Don't blame the fireman for what the arsonist caused," Herbert said.
The community organizers did not apologize for the damage caused by protestors to Derek Miller’s office at the Salt Lake Chamber, even though they acknowledged his staff had nothing to do with his role as Chairman of the Inland Port Authority Board.
“It’s unfortunate for the (building’s) wall, but it’s much more unfortunate for the entire planet,” said Anco Nahuel, a local community organizer who helped plan the protest. “I apologize directly to the workers that we did scare the hell out of, but I’m scared. I’m so scared not only for my community, the city, but the entire planet at this point… I don’t condone the destruction of that wall, but that wall can be replaced.”
At a press conference on Wednesday, Miller said protestors ransacked his offices, broke surveillance cameras, refused to leave, and started “urinating in some of the offices.”
Protestors disputed Miller’s statements that they “urinated in some of the offices,” blaming a spilled water bottle instead.
Russ Davis, the Vice President of Real Estate Services for Unico Properties, described the damage to his company’s building as “very minor.”
“We do not have full damage esetimates or details resulting from (Tuesday’s) incident at this time, though early assessment indicates very minor damage,” he wrote. “The wellbeing of our tenants and staff is a top priority for all of us at Unico. We can share that yesterday’s protests had no impact on the safety and security systems at City Centre I.”
Chief Mike Brown said protestors broke a desk and shattered a glass door as part of the demonstration.
“I was next to so many of my homies, so many of my friends, so many of my protestors, getting choked out by the police,” Nahuel said. “None of our protestors were armed. None of them were told to mask up.”
Violence outside the Salt Lake Chamber
Community organizers at Thursday’s press conference also did not apologize for the attack on a KUTV photojournalist outside the Salt Lake Chamber.
“The person who did attack the media personnel was not one of our organizers. We are unsure who this person was. They’re unaffiliated,” Nahuel said. “I am very thankful that this reporter is doing well, however this story is inside the building.”
Chief Brown said investigators are still working on trying to identify the individuals involved in the attack.
Dave Newlin, with Utah Against Police Brutality, blamed the media for reporting on the attack.
“If you focus on these really really tiny incidents, you’re losing the larger message,” he said.
According to probable cause statements obtained by FOX 13, most arrests made on Tuesday night were for protestors locking arms and refusing to leave property after multiple warnings.
Eight people were arrested on Tuesday. Three were cited and released. Five were taken to jail.
Chief Brown said some of the more egregious cases of violence are still under investigation, and they have already reached out to various media outlets to obtain copies of their video to aid the investigation.
Chief Brown said SLCPD will continue to release body camera video as he investigates whether each officer’s use of force was within department policy.
He did not give an initial evaluation of his own officers’ performance.
“I think that would be unfair for me to say right now,” he said. “Too soon.”
Chief Brown also said it will take approximately one week for the department to compile an after-accident review of the incident to determine lessons learned from the protest.
“We’re going to ask for the Citizen Review Board to take a look at this as well,” he said.
FOX 13 has uploaded all of our video onto our website, for viewers to judge the actions of the demonstrators and police on their own.