SALT LAKE CITY — The Salt Lake City Police Department has released body camera video of an arrest made on New Year's Day in connection to ongoing protests of homelessness treatment.
The video released Friday night shows SLCPD arresting a 26-year-old Ethan Petersen for interference with arresting. Police said they were arresting two individuals with warrants when Petersen interfered. The video included heated conversations on the topic of homelessness in Salt Lake City with protesters shouting "this is our community!"
The video was released in midst of the now two-day-long protest happening at Washington Square. Protesters say the city's homeless are being mistreated and harassed by local police, but police beg to differ.
"Most of the time when we’re out checking on people in these camps, it's to make sure that they’re OK — that we don’t have anybody who’s got frostbite, who has passed away in these tents," said SLCPD Public Information Officer Michael Ruff. "Sometimes when they're using heaters and things like that in these tents, it can cause ... medical issues, so to say that we’re out harassing people is just incorrect. That’s not something we’re out doing."
Following the recent closure of The Road Home, members from the Take Shelter Coalition say those experiencing homelessness have nowhere else to go.
"We call the shelters everyday, and the shelters are full," said KC Fralick, community organizer with Take Shelter Coalition. "In November, that shelter closed and the new ones they’ve chosen to replace it have 400 fewer beds than the old one had."
After two tireless days of protesting, those in-between homes and advocates are still demanding action from the city. They argue that there is nowhere else for them to go but the streets and when on the streets, they say that they are being harassed by the police.
Salt Lake City Major Jackie Biskuspksi and Mayor-Elect Erin Mendenhall issued a statement that read in part:
"During this time of inclement weather, special considerations have been made and no cold weather gear will be taken from those in an active encampment between November 1 through March 31. The City and our partners have increased our service outreach efforts since late October."
People living on the streets and advocates say they will not stop protesting until their voices are heard.