SALT LAKE CITY – Well, that didn’t last long. Another meeting about the inland port is shut down because of protestors only a few minutes before it started.
Technically, this wasn’t a meeting held by the Utah Inland Port board. This meeting was hosted by the Utah Association of Counties, and it was about possible satellite locations in other parts of the state.
Yesterday, the association saw social media posts calling on people to protest and disrupt the meeting. Association Director of Regional Growth Stuart Clason says this wasn’t initially going to be open to the public.
“We didn’t realize it was going to be publicly posted because we’re not required [to do so],” Clason says.
The association decided to move the meeting from their offices to the Salt Lake City Police precinct building on 700 South, which is a public building. Clason says they wanted extra security.
He adds, “After what we saw at the Salt Lake Chamber, we really didn’t want to have our property damaged. We heard people urinated on the walls. It just seemed very inappropriate for us to have [the meeting there]. Staff was concerned and felt unsafe.”
Just minutes after the meeting was called to order, two people standing on the side of the room were asked to leave. Salt Lake Police officers say they were standing in an area that blocked people from exiting, which violates fire codes. However, when people started protesting the officers’ instructions, Clason decided to call the meeting off.
“Officers, we’re going to cancel the meeting. We’re just cancelling the meeting,” Clason announced to a smattering of applause.
One of the people asked to leave is Ethan Peterson, who is the same man who handcuffed himself to a door during a previous Inland Port Board meeting at the Capitol. He refutes any claims that he is a threat.
“Handcuffing yourself to a door is not violence. Sorry, that’s not violence. What is violence is having cops hit your pressure points and slamming you into walls,” Peterson says.
Although disruptive, Peterson insists protestors have been non-violent.
“I’d like to see a demonstration or some kind of evidence of a lack of safety for any of these board members,” he says.
One man was arrested after he reportedly got into a heated argument with another person attending the meeting. Officers say he kept touching the other man after repeatedly being asked to stop, and even started to grab the other man’s cell phone.
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