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Annie Knox, KSL, File

Some repeat protesters just want to provoke officers, Salt Lake police say

By Pat Reavy, KSL | Updated - Jan. 6, 2020 at 5:34 p.m. | Posted - Jan. 6, 2020 at 4:15 p.m.



SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake police were already familiar with some of the protesters who were arrested for clashing with officers at Washington Square on Saturday night.

That’s because at least four of them had previously been arrested and charged over protests of the Utah Inland Port Authority.

Late Saturday, more than 100 people with a group calling itself the Take Shelter Coalition gathered outside the Salt Lake City-County Building, 451 S. State, to “bring awareness to the harsh conditions the unsheltered community in Salt Lake City is facing,” according to a statement released by the group on Monday.

But Salt Lake police say they are seeing some of the same faces at different protests — purportedly for various causes. In some cases, the protests turn into verbal assaults against police officers and end with officers arresting people after they refuse to obey their commands to leave.

“They are choosing politically polarizing causes that put them in direct conflict with authority in hopes of provoking an incident,” Salt Lake police detective Greg Wilking said Monday.

The latest confrontations with police began on Friday and culminated Saturday night when officers told the group they would be enforcing the city’s no camping rule at 11 p.m.

But rather than disperse at 11 p.m., some members locked arms and continued to yell at officers who were dressed in riot gear. Some threw bottles at officers and squirted them with water.

Of the 17 people arrested, 13 received citations and were released. The following four were booked into the Salt Lake County Jail:

  • Richard Lee Anderson Jr., 31, was arrested for investigation of inciting a riot, assault on a police officer, interfering with an arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia and violating park curfew. Anderson “assaulted a peace officer by throwing water on the officer. (He) was a main agitator inside of the crowd, encouraging others to protest and inciting a riot,” according to a police booking affidavit.
  • Ethan Petersen, 26, was arrested for investigation of interfering with an arresting officer and trespassing. Petersen “threw himself onto the ground in an attempt to resist and delay his arrest,” a police affidavit states. After he was handcuffed, Petersen allegedly attempted to run but was recaptured a short distance later. He was formally charged Monday with interfering with an arresting officer, a class B misdemeanor. and disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor.
  • Marvin Oliveros, 38, was arrested for investigation of disorderly conduct, failure to disperse and interfering with an arrest. Oliveras saw officers arrest another person “and then attempted to push his way into the group of officers in an attempt to interfere with the arrest,” another report says. Monday, he was formally charged with interfering with an arresting officer, a class B misdemeanor. and failing to disperse, a class C misdemeanor. Oliveros, who is with the group Justice for Cody, is the stepbrother of Cody Belgard, who was shot and killed by Salt Lake police in 2018. Oliveros has been outspoken and critical of the police department’s actions, and has been present at several protests since the officers’ actions in shooting his brother were determined to be legally justified by the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
  • Deanna Anderson, 27, was arrested and booked into jail for investigation of failing to disperse and failing to disclose her identity. She was was formally charged Monday with failing to disclose her identity, a class B misdemeanor; failing to disperse, a class C misdemeanor; and violating park curfew, an infraction.

In addition, Amy Kathleen Kovac, 28, and Kaden Cicily Fralick, 22, were cited for investigation of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

Richard Anderson, Petersen, Kovac and Fralick already face charges in connection with a protest over the Utah Inland Port on July 9. They were charged, along with seven other co-defendants, with inciting a riot, a third-degree felony; and trespassing, a class B misdemeanor.

In that incident, more than 200 protesters — organized by the group Protect our Community and joined by Utah Against Police Brutality, Civil Riot, ICE Free SLC, and others — gathered at the Chamber of Commerce Building to protest the project planned in northwest Salt Lake City to maximize Utah’s place in the global import and export economy with a network of trucks, trains and air connections.

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Petersen refused to leave the building, was handcuffed, and then refused to walk as officers were forced to put on a gurney to transport him out of the building, according to charging documents.

Anderson, Kovac and Fralick were three of six people accused of going to the sixth floor of the building and linking themselves with other protesters in a device called a “sleeping dragon,” which is used by protesters to make it harder for police to separate people.

The Take Shelter Coalition said the latest protest was formed due to the downtown Road Home shelter closing and to raise awareness about the city’s housing issues.

“Our aim is to improve conditions for our unsheltered neighbors who are experiencing harassment by police simply for trying not to freeze in the city’s harsh winters,” the group said its statement. “The aim of the occupation was to draw more attention to the terrible and unfair experiences forced on the homeless community and to continue providing food and other basic needs to as many as we could.”

The coalition says it is comprised of several groups, including CivilRiot, Democratic Socialists of Salt Lake, For The People, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Justice for Cody, Just Media, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Rose Park Brown Berets, Union for Street Solidarity and Utah Against Police Brutality.

The coalition claims it was able to develop “an efficient system for basic sanitation needs and regularly changed the trash cans near our camping area. In contrast to the claims of the Salt Lake City Police Department, the camp only became a mess when the riot squad trampled and tore the camp apart.”

Salt Lake Police Chief Mike Brown, however, said public lands workers removed an estimated six to seven tons of trash from the area around the Salt Lake City-County Building after the occupiers were removed.

Likewise, the coalition claims its members had to provide medical support to a camper who was experiencing a medical emergency because paramedics refused to enter the area without a police escort.

Brown said Sunday he feared a repeat of an incident during the Occupy Salt Lake protest in 2011 when a man died from a combination of a drug overdose and carbon monoxide poisoning due to a space heater inside his tent.

A video the police department released on Friday showed a small group of protesters that day taunting police who were arrested a couple for outstanding warrants and repeatedly cursing at the officers. In a statement Friday, then-Salt Lake City Mayor Jackie Biskupski and Erin Mendenhall, who was sworn in as the new mayor on Monday, issued a joint statement saying the protesters have declined invitations to speak with city officials about their concerns.

Others who were cited and released for the late Saturday include: Jacalyn Lawler, Hannah Zivolich, Cameron Durman, Madelyn Petersen, Nadezhda Mayurova, Samantha Murdock, Alex Murphy, November Kiahtipes, Jessica Arter, Nicholas Godfrey and Michael Barreno. Formal misdemeanor charges were filed against some of those people on Monday.

Wilking said additional arrests are pending and warrants could be issued at a later time after formal criminal charges are filed.

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