Hundreds march in downtown Salt Lake to protest harsh charges from July protest

Anti-racism protesters march at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. The protesters called for charges against those involved in the July 9 protests outside District Attorney Sim Gill’s office to be dropped.

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)



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SALT LAKE CITY — A couple hundred protesters marched through the streets downtown on Saturday with signs decrying criminal charges that were leveled against fellow rioters’ actions in early July.

A counter rally in support of police officers also took to the streets at around the same time, but did not meet.

The group that gathered at the Capitol at 6 p.m. for a “drop the charges” demonstration is also upset at the shooting of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal, a 22-year-old who was shot and killed by Salt Lake police on May 23.

In concordance with national Black Lives Matter protests, friends and family of Palacios have said the killing was unjust and want police held responsible. They’ve held multiple protests and rallies that were fueled recently by gang-enhanced charges issued against nine people who allegedly broke windows and defaced public property with red paint, mainly targeting Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill’s office building.

Those charges were reduced Friday night, from first-degree to third-degree felonies.

Anti-racism protesters paste flyers on the windows of the District Attorney’s Office building in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. The protesters called for charges against those involved in the July 9 protests outside District Attorney Sim Gill’s office to be dropped.
Anti-racism protesters paste flyers on the windows of the District Attorney’s Office building in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. The protesters called for charges against those involved in the July 9 protests outside District Attorney Sim Gill’s office to be dropped. (Photo: Spenser Heaps, KSL)

At one point during Saturday’s march, protesters were met by a half dozen police officers in riot gear, who tried to derail their path toward Gill’s office, at 35 E. 500 South. Despite the efforts, the group made it to the district attorney’s office, where they remained peaceful, posting signs and speaking out.

In a contrasting “Blue Lives Matter” event, motorcyclists and hundreds of others made their way to the Utah Capitol from their gathering spot at Washington Square, making noise, waving flags and shouting praise for police. The group, many of whom donned red, white and blue, as well as black, showed support for police, who have been at the center of a lot of turmoil in recent months.

People walk, ride motorcycles and drive trucks in a “Blue Lives Matter” march in support of police near the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020.
People walk, ride motorcycles and drive trucks in a “Blue Lives Matter” march in support of police near the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. (Photo: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

The counter protests did not cross paths, though, it was believed that might have been the plan.

Police asked locals to avoid the area between the Capitol building and the Salt Lake City-County Building, due to “rolling closures” and “mobile demonstrations.”

While there was no red paint splattered all over the district attorney’s office on Saturday like there was on July 9, the windows of the ground floor of the building were once again covered with various posters and signs demanding change. No windows were broken on Saturday.

Some signs read, “Drop all charges. Support protesters. Fight political repression.” The group wants the charges levied against the protesters accused of vandalism to be completely dropped.

“No good cops. No bad protesters,” another sign stated.

The chants — “drop the charges” — continued into the evening and could be heard throughout downtown as protesters made their way back through the city.

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Wendy Leonard

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