Police break up series of early-morning brawls on Days of '47 Parade route

Police break up series of early-morning brawls on Days of '47 Parade route

(Stu Johnson, KSL TV File)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Reports of several fights breaking out the Days of '47 Parade route early Tuesday prompted a call for all available Salt Lake police officers to descend upon the scene near Liberty Park.

"There was also a report of a possible gun being involved," Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking said.

A crowd that had formed at the site of the reported fights — characterized as sizable and defiant — was broken up by the officers that arrived.

"It was a very tense situation to have unfold," Wilking said.

No citations were issued and no arrests made, according to Wilking. He wasn't sure about the size of the crowd at the northwest corner of Liberty Park near 900 South and 600 East or how many fights had broken out.

"The idea was to disperse the crowd, get people out of the area, calm them down and locate any weapons," Wilking said. "If there had been weapons found, yeah, then we would've made arrests. But we didn't locate any weapons."

No injuries were reported.

Police had been patrolling the parade route since 7 p.m. Monday evening until 4 a.m. the next morning.

"We try to keep an active eye on what's taking place and have a police presence there, to simmer things down if they are getting out of control," Wilking said. "And there is a certain time of the night that we say, 'Things should have quieted down by now' — 4 a.m. being one of those times."

The reports of fights came shortly after 4 a.m. when the majority of the officers were sent home.

While some in the area had been there to stake out spots for the parade, Wilking thinks some people were there for other reasons.

"There's a certain number of people just showing up for the party, for the entertainment," he said. "Not necessarily interested in watching the parade, but more interested in socially interacting with those that are camping out — and I think that's where the problem lies."

The detective said there may have been alcohol or drugs involved before the fights, which included a lot of young people with no parental oversight.

"There had been some evidence that there had been drinking in the park," he said. "I saw a beer bottle myself around midnight near a large group of people."

When Wilking was in the park around midnight, he said a gun was fired multiple times but does not know if it was connected to the fights that broke out later.

Investigators will discuss how to curb the activity they saw Tuesday morning, Wilking said.

"We don't want to see the people that have had a family tradition for a very long time, coming down and camping out, we don't want to see that get influenced in a negative way."

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