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Remembering A Summer Filled With Protests In Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, UtahIn a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, a presidential election and even a serious earthquake, one of the biggest stories here in Utah is what happened on a Saturday afternoon in May. A protest in downtown Salt Lake City turned violent, leaving us with images many never thought we’d see here.

Protests have always happened in Utah, and the morning of May 30th was not that much different.

“This is what democracy looks like,” yelled demonstrators.

People voicing their opinions on the national topic of police brutality.

“I’m really glad it’s not violent because our kids are here and we wanted to show that we can protest peacefully,” a woman said at the protest.

But, that peaceful protest turned into a riot just after 3 p.m. when a handful of people flipped a Salt Lake City police car onto its side, then its roof.

Many erupted into cheers when the car was lit on fire.

“The situation here, I mean, is obviously completely out of control at this point,” said KSL TV’s Alex Cabrero as glass shattered around him during a Facebook Live. 

Salt Lake City police, as well as law enforcement agencies throughout the Wasatch Front, came downtown to break the riot up.

It took several hours, with people and officers being hurt in the clashes, but by 10 p.m., the riot was over.

Plenty of damage was left behind, including graffiti and vandalism at the Utah State Capitol, the very symbol of our society.

“Black Lives Matter, no justice, no peace, but graffiti? Damaging our Capitol? We didn’t win in this. We didn’t prove nothing,” said a man who volunteered to clean up the next morning.

That day was just the beginning of a summer filled with protests — most of them stayed peaceful, but a handful did turn violent like one in Provo where the driver of an SUV kept going as protesters were in the road.

“He was running them over and then he got me,” a female protestor said. “I ended up falling over to the side after he hit me.”

A man on the street pulled out a gun, walked up to the SUV, and shot the driver. That driver ended up going to the hospital. He lived, while the shooter was arrested.

There was also a protest in Cottonwood Heights where participants marched on the roads.

Police asked them to stay off the roads and when the people didn’t listen, protesters and officers started clashing.

“This is unbelievable,” a woman yelled.

Cottonwood Heights officers made several arrests, saying blocking traffic and marching in roads wasn’t something they would allow.

This isn’t Salt Lake City, this is Cottonwood Heights,” said an officer. “We’re not going to let them take over residential streets and not let people go to their homes.”

Then, in July, another protest in Salt Lake City turned into a riot, with people smashing the windows of the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and painting the building and street red after DA Sim Gill cleared officers of shooting and killing a man months before.

Police didn’t move in until two men started breaking those windows, resulting in another standoff between officers and protesters.

“We just cannot allow that to happen and so we ordered our officers, our mobile forces, and our task forces to come in to disperse the crowd,” said Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown.

It was a summer that will always be remembered in Salt Lake City — a summer full of anger, emotion, actions and scars that will still take quite some time to heal.

KSL 5 TV Live