Salt Lake City Council Meeting Disrupted By Protest Over Homelessness, Road Home Closure

Nov 12, 2019, 11:36 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — A Salt Lake City Council meeting was disrupted Tuesday when public commenters and protesters refused to wait their turn to speak out on homeless and the pending closure of the Road Home shelter.

The council had been addressing other agenda items and taking public comment on those specific issues, but off-topic speakers, cheering and yelling made it challenging to proceed.

Council members elected to go into recess as demonstrators — chanting “what will you do?” “Whose house? Our house!” “people over profit,” and “we will be back” — took over the chambers for a short protest before exiting the building.

Among the group’s demands was to keep the Road Home open into next year.

“Them trying to pass the buck or deflect responsibility — we’re not accepting it,” said Marvin Oliveros, one of the demonstrators. “They have influence in these decisions — even with the state in regards to keeping the Road Home open.”

Earlier in the day, the council hosted a “fact-finding” session on the current state of homelessness and heard from several city and county officials as well as community organizations on various efforts to ensure the homeless are cared for and have the resources they need heading into winter.

In a statement that followed the disruption and protest, council chair Charlie Luke said the council has been “open to communication and hard conversations regarding homeless and issues surrounding the closure of the Road Home.”

“It is hard to continue a conversation when there is no respect, yelling and disregard for the many efforts of all involved, including the council, to help our less fortunate neighbors,” Luke said. “We plead with you to have an orderly meeting to continue with the items that are part of the solutions to help our homeless neighbors.”

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Salt Lake City Council Meeting Disrupted By Protest Over Homelessness, Road Home Closure