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Two protests in Provo Wednesday night
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Utah County Sheriff’s Office: what is (and is not) allowed during protests

Two groups of protesters gathered near the Provo police station Wednesday night, one to show support for systemic change to American police departments and another to show support for the police. The protest was peaceful. (Photo credit: Alex Cabrero KSL5 TV)

UTAH COUNTY, Utah – Following two high profile protests in Provo over police brutality, the Utah County Sheriff’s Office is reminding people what is legally allowed during demonstrations. 

Sheriff Mike Smith posted a message on social media answering questions he’d received about protest behavior. He was also asked about whether certain activities are allowable. The Sheriff’s Office also reiterated that they support people’s First Amendment right to protest. 

Not allowed during protests 

Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon says they will not let people block traffic. 

“You can’t impede pedestrians in their progress. You can’t stand in a roadway unless that roadway has been closed by law enforcement. And you can’t detain somebody,” Cannon says.  

If someone does, they could be arrested and charged with unlawful detention. 

Cannon says standing in the middle of the street and jaywalking are illegal. But the real concern is safety.  

 

He says if a driver doesn’t know there is a protest going on and turns a corner, that could turn out badly. 

“When you’re pitting a person against a car, even if a person is not going to maliciously run somebody down, if someone steps in front of their car too late, then [injuries] might happen,” Cannon says. 

However, if someone intentionally hits a protester, they could also be arrested and charged. 

Threatening people or property, damaging personal property, assaulting people, making excess noise, and trespassing also could result in arrests or citations. 

Allowed during protests? 

The Sheriff’s Office says handheld signs and placards can be used, as well as megaphones and noisemakers, as long as protesters are not violating any ordinances. 

Demonstrators can march if they stay on the sidewalk, or designated area in the roadway, and follow all traffic laws.

Cannon says a protester can also carry any weapon he or she is legally allowed to as long as they are following the law and do not threaten anyone. 

The Sheriff’s Office’s guidelines are similar to those of the Ogden Police Department.