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Salt Lake City Mayor reacts to protest: 'Stop with the destruction'

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-11 00:54:19-04

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall is publicly reacting to Thursday's protest that ended with injuries, arrests and damage to the downtown Salt Lake County District Attorney's building.

She said in an interview with Fox 13 Friday evening that the destruction needs to stop and that it "doesn't advance the cause."

"It does not give you legal rights to create violence and to destroy property," Mayor Mendenhall said. "That is something — as we saw last night — that we will not tolerate going forward."

Protesters gathered in front of Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill's office building, angered at his 'justified' ruling in the police shooting death of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal.

Some used their cars to block off 500 South between Main Street and State Street.

They taped "Justice for Bernardo" signs to the glass windows and doors, and wrote "Sim Gill has blood on his hands," in chalk on the road.

Eventually, a group of people painted the road, district attorney's sign and parts of the building and front stairs red. They shattered the glass on some of the front windows.

Right after that, police stepped in to break up the protest. At first, they made announcements over the DPS helicopter declaring the protest an unlawful assembly and ordering people to leave.

Police surrounded the area and advanced toward the crowd, leading to a confrontation between officers and protesters.

Protesters were seen injured on the ground and unable to move, being carried away by others. Some appeared to have wounds on their heads and faces.

Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown said one of their officers was injured in the leg, and others were pepper sprayed. He said protesters threw rocks and bottles at police, which he said was "not acceptable."

"We in Salt Lake City have for many years made sure to protect people's first amendment right to come down and protest. But you need to understand, that means peacefully," Chief Brown said, during an interview with FOX 13 on Friday afternoon.

The vandalism led to Utah Governor Gary Herbert declaring a state of emergency. Salt Lake City said damages could rack up to $100,000 to $200,000 dollars.

While their number one priority is to allow people to express their first amendment rights and protect public safety, Mayor Mendenhall said, she added that police will intervene in any acts of vandalism immediately.

She said Chief Brown referred to not tolerating the "3 Vs"-- vandalism, violence, or using vehicles to block traffic and create a barrier.

Mendenhall said she's hopeful that protests going forward will remain about the message of building equity and creating reforms in the systems in Salt Lake City that they know need to improve.

"Community members are already doing the work of building and reforming," she said. "One of those examples is the Commission on Racial Equity and Policing."

She said she implores people who want their voices heard, and want to build change and create reform to do it constructively, and "exercise their first amendment rights peacefully."

"We want to put these changes into place," she said. "But tearing things down and creating destruction, is no way to build reform."