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Governor Declares State Of Emergency Closing Capitol, DA’s Office After Protests

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signs legislation repealing the state's controversial tax reform bill passed in a special session in Dec. 2019. (Gov. Herbert/Twitter)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency following a protest in downtown Salt Lake City where sidewalks were covered with red paint and windows smashed at the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office building.

Protesters started to gather Thursday evening after Salt Lake County District Attorney Sam Gill ruled officers were justified in the shooting death of Bernardo Palacios-Carabajal in May.

The state of emergency ordered, “the closure of the Utah State Capitol building and grounds to all individuals other than officers and employees of the Utah Executive Branch, the Utah Legislature and the Utah Judiciary.”

Friday afternoon the order was updated to also close the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office because of the possibility or more demonstrations.

The order remains in effect until July 13 at 11:59 p.m., unless it is amended.

The proclamation cited bodily injury and “destruction of private and public property, including extensive defacement of the Utah State Capitol building” during previous civil unrest incidents.

Salt Lake City police tweeted during the protest that medical teams were called in to help officers who were injured when someone sprayed them with pepper spray.

Chief Mike Brown with the Salt Lake City Police Department said his officers were allowing the protest but things changed when some protesters started to break windows at the district attorney’s office building.

“That is unacceptable action and so we felt it very appropriate to declare that unlawful assembly and to move in and to ask, you know, to give them the space to leave but to be very persistent and the demand that they leave the area,” Brown said.

By 8:30 p.m. Thursday, protesters started to leave the area.

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