Police, Protesters Defend Actions After Cottonwood Heights Rally Turns Violent

Aug 3, 2020, 7:35 PM | Updated: 7:50 pm

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah — Both protesters and police officers defended their actions after a Cottonwood Heights protest turned violent on the streets of a residential neighborhood on Sunday.

Eight people were arrested and five officers were injured. Police said injuries included a broken nose and ribs, and one officer was choked unconscious.

The peaceful rally started at Mill Hollow Park at 4 p.m. Sunday. It was in memory of 20-year-old Zane James, who was shot and killed by an officer in 2018.

The plan was to have the rally and then march on the streets to the location where he was shot. That’s when things turned violent.

Police shut down the march on the residential street and asked for protesters to get to the sidewalks.

They said the only reason it got out of hand was because protesters would not listen.

“It’s not something that we wanted. It’s not something that we asked for. We simply asked for people to use the sidewalk and not obstruct traffic,” said Lt. Dan Bartlett with the Cottonwood Heights Police Department. “They wanted a confrontation with law enforcement. If they would have applied for a permit, we would have shut the street down for them and facilitated the walk.”

On Monday afternoon, James’ family, friends and supporters held a press conference to defend their actions, saying it was police who stepped across the line and became violent.

“As soon as we were asked to move on the sidewalk, we moved on the sidewalk. There were two different locations where police had us compressed,” said James’ mother, Tiffany James.

She said they had nowhere to go because police surrounded them and then started to become violent and make arrests.

Happening now… press conf from organizers of last nights rally in Cottonwood Heights that turned violent 9 people arrested 5 officers injured

Posted by KSL 5 TV on Monday, August 3, 2020

“This is exactly why we marched,” she said. “This is why we came together with these people. This is why our son was shot.”

“We show up with a peaceful demonstration with music playing in the background and the back of our car and [water] squirt guns [to keep cool], and there is a wall of guys with helmets and military and swat and radios buzzing. It’s pretty intimidating,” said Aaron James.

City councilwoman Tali Bruce, who oversees the area where it all broke out, streamed the event live on Facebook.

She claimed an officer punched her in the throat and she had to go to the emergency room. She’s calling for change.

“One of my own officers assaulted me — did a straight arm punch to my throat,” said Bruce. “What I witnessed occurring to people shook me to the core. I never in a million years anticipated that kind of interaction with people in Cottonwood Heights.”

Bartlett said Bruce was not assaulted.

“It doesn’t look like that to me. I’m watching her video. It doesn’t look like that to me,” he said.

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Police, Protesters Defend Actions After Cottonwood Heights Rally Turns Violent