SALT LAKE CITY — A protest against police brutality in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday has escalated, leading to response from SWAT teams and the National Guard.
The demonstration was one of multiple protests planned in response to the death of George Floyd, who died Monday in police custody after video showed a Minneapolis, Minnesota police officer kneeling on his neck for several minutes as he struggled to breathe and went unconscious.
Organizers also say they are demonstrating for 22-year-old Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, who was shot and killed by Salt Lake City Police one week ago. The department is expected to release body camera footage within 10 days of the incident.
The protest was intended by organizers to be peaceful, but it gradually escalated as the Salt Lake City Police Department headquarters building was vandalized with spray-painted messages, and an unoccupied SLCPD vehicle has been overturned, smashed and set on fire at 200 East and 400 South. A Utah Transit Authority TRAX station was also damaged.
Gov. Gary Herbert released a statement on the incident:
“We are in close contact with our department of public safety and receiving regular updates. Our hearts break for the family of George Floyd. We are grateful for the swift actions taken by the state of Minnesota to hold those responsible for his death accountable. We can not, however, condone violence, defacement of public buildings, and destruction of property. We call upon the good people of Utah to engage civilly and to act peaceably as they seek to exercise their first amendment rights.”
He later announced he will be calling in the National Guard.Law enforcement, fire, paramedics or other medical personnel, news media, people traveling directly to and from work, traveling directly to and from the Airport, seeking medical care, fleeing dangerous circumstances, or those experiencing homelessness.
Many of the demonstrators have marched to the State Capitol, where Utah Highway Patrol are keeping anyone from going up the stairs leading to the building.
SLCPD SWAT teams have now responded downtown along with agencies from surrounding areas.
Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall has announced a curfew at 8 p.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Monday morning for the entire city. Mendenhall and SLCPD Chief Mike Brown said no one is allowed to be in public during that time even for traveling, but provided the following exceptions:
- Traveling to and from work
- Obtaining food
- Traveling to or from the airport
- Taking care of a family member, friend or animal
- Seeking medical care
- Fleeing dangerous circumstances
- Those experiencing homelessness
- Police, fire personnel and medical personnel
- News media
Mendenhall and Brown held a press conference at 9 p.m. with an update on the curfew, asking the public to stay home and for protesters to go home. Brown also stated that six people had been arrested at the time.
One officer was hit over the head with a baseball bat and is recovering in the hospital. Brown said if he had not been wearing a helmet, he would have likely been seriously injured or killed.