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14 charged after violent inland port protest left building in disarray, dirtied with feces

By Jacob Klopfenstein and Liesl Nielsen, KSL.com | Updated - Oct 21st, 2019 @ 6:58pm | Posted - Oct 21st, 2019 @ 3:31pm



SALT LAKE CITY — Fourteen people have been charged in connection with a violent July 9 protest over Utah’s controversial inland port that left the Utah State Chamber of Commerce building in disarray and dirtied with feces, officials said Monday.

The protest turned chaotic after people stormed the building during a meeting of the Inland Port Authority, the group tasked with planning the project.

Multiple officers responded to reports that protesters had entered the building, rushed to the sixth floor and refused to leave, according to charging documents.

A large group of protesters left when police informed them they would be arrested for unlawful assembly, but many remained, the documents state. One of the officers estimated there were about 200 protesters in the building and 50 more on the sixth floor, causing employees in the building to feel unsafe.

Officers said many of the protesters were chanting expletives directed at police, while other protesters pulled police into the crowd and began to punch, kick or spit on them, charging documents show. As police tried to push protesters out, the protesters continued to push back or push officers' arms away.

The owner of the company tasked with the building's cleanup after the protest said his crew found what appeared to be "fresh" human feces in a cubicle in the office area of the sixth floor, according to charging documents. The owner said he also detected the smell of human urine in five or six different offices on the sixth floor. He also discovered feces and urine in the stairwell of the building.

The company charged the Chamber of Commerce building about $7,000 for cleanup: $5,000 for the sixth floor and $2,000 for the lobby. The owner said part of that $2,000 included costs for window cleaning because something had been smeared all over the windows during the protest.

Ten people were charged in 3rd District Court by the Salt Lake County district attorney's office, while the other four were charged by the Salt Lake City prosecutor's office, according to Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

"We have a First Amendment right that is a constitutionally-protected right," Gill said. "I have participated and exercised that right as a citizen myself. But we cross that line when our First Amendment right starts to engage in violation of criminal law or criminal behavior."

Though details about the four charged by the Salt Lake City prosecutor's office have not yet been released, the ten others charged in the incident are:

  • Jackson Richman, 18, of West Jordan; charged with two counts of riot, both third-degree felonies, propelling a bodily substance, a class A misdemeanor, and criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor.

    An officer who responded to the protests identified Richman from video footage of the 18-year-old spitting in an officer's face, charging documents state. After Richman spit, the officer attempted to take him into custody, but the officer, Richman and another man all fell to the ground.

    Richman was also later seen in video footage attempting to take a bicycle away from a man in front of the building after he and the man got into a verbal argument, according to charging documents. The man eventually swung his arm at Richman to stop him from taking his bicycle.

    Richman later admitted that he did spit on an officer and kicked the man after attempting to take his bike, according to charging documents.

  • Joshua Baker-Cooper, 34, of Salt Lake City; charged with riot, a third-degree felony, and gang assault, a class A misdemeanor.

    After the man with the bike swung his arm at Richman, a man, later identified as Baker-Cooper, began to punch the man in the face multiple times, charging documents show.

    During the assault, someone from a news agency was trying to capture the incident on camera, but someone tried to cover the lens, and others nearby were heard encouraging Baker-Cooper, charging documents say. Richman is later seen in the video footage walking away with the man's bicycle, the documents add.

  • Nicholas Jones, 30, of Salt Lake City; charged with riot, a third-degree felony, criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor, assault against a peace officer or military service member, a class A misdemeanor.

    The man who fell to the ground with Richman and the officer was later identified as Jones. While the three were on the ground, video footage captured Jones "violently kicking" towards the officer, charging documents state.

  • Ethan Petersen, 25; charged with riot, a third-degree felony, interference with an arresting officer, a class B misdemeanor, and criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor.

    An officer witnessed two other officers attempting to arrest Petersen as other protestors were vacating the sixth floor, charging documents state. Petersen refused to place his hands behind his back at the command of officers, and the other officer had to assist by holding Petersen's legs to prevent him from kicking the arresting officers. Petersen also refused to walk, and officers had to wheel him out on a gurney.

  • Randy Navarette, 20, of Magna; charged with riot, a third-degree felony, and criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor.

    An officer who responded to the protest said that a man, later identified as Navarette, was captured by three different surveillance cameras standing and walking across desks on the sixth floor.

    He was also captured on another camera standing on the reception desk on the sixth floor, stomping his feet on the corner of the desk and yeling. The damage to the desks was estimated to be about $150.

    After the protest, Navarette did an interview with a news agency wearing the same clothing he was wearing in the video and identified himself by name.

  • Kaden Fralick, 21, of Salt Lake City; was charged with riot, a third-degree felony, and criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor.

    An officer who responded to reports of the protest said Fralick was part of something called a "sleeping dragon," where protestors linked themselves together using cylinders covering their wrists and hands, according to charging documents. Officers broke apart the protestors and escorted them to patrol cars outside.

  • Rosemary Obrien, 25, of Oskaloosa, Kansas; charged with riot, a third-degree felony, and criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor.

    Obrien was also part of the "sleeping dragon," charging documents show.

  • Hannah Zivolich, 24, of Mexican Hat; charged with riot, a third-degree felony, and criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor.

    Zivolich was also part of the "sleeping dragon," charging documents show.

  • Amy Kovac, 28, of Salt Lake City; charged with riot, a third-degree felony, and criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor.

    Kovac was also part of the "sleeping dragon," charging documents show.

  • Richard Anderson Jr., 31, of Salt Lake City; charged with riot, a third-degree felony, and criminal trespass, a class B misdemeanor.

    Anderson was also part of the "sleeping dragon," charging documents show.

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