PROVO – The Utah County Attorney’s Office is filing misdemeanor charges against nine people for their role in promoting and hosting a massive Halloween party while COVID-19 cases were at very high levels. Some of these organizers are also facing hefty fines.
“The Protest On Halloween,” as it was being called at the time, was promoted for months on social media, and even though the planners claimed the party had been canceled because of heavy scrutiny, it still happened, as planned, on the west side of Utah Lake. Utah County Attorney David Leavitt says there was a massive turnout.
“Our estimates were that there were nearly 10 thousand people at this event, [and they] represent a real danger to the health and safety of our county and our state, especially its more vulnerable population,” he says.
Leavitt acknowledges people still have a constitutional right to gather, but he also says Utahns have a responsibility to protect each other, and that the organizers of the event failed to do so by not complying with state health mandates. Leavitt says there were no attempts to keep people socially distant or to enforce mask use.
He says, “This is just the type of a ‘super spreader’ that we were all concerned about.”
Leavitt says he has filed Class B misdemeanor charges against the following people…
- Tanner G. Valerio, Bluffdale, UT
- Andrew Ivie, Midway, UT
- Talifolaukovi Roger Foliaki, Pleasant Grove, UT
- Branden Abel Estrada, Sandy, UT
- Sadie Broooke Salisbury, Draper, UT
- James D. Mcreynolds, Lindon, UT
- Samuel Mark Nii, Orem, UT
- Daniel Edward Mortenson, Eden, UT
- Erik Scott Little, Sandy, UT
Little, Estrada, Nii and Valerio are also being fined $10,000, as are the groups The Tribe Utah, LLC, and Young And Dumb, LLC. Leavitt says the investigation is still ongoing, and they’re considering charges against people who reportedly obstructed the investigation into the rave.
“The problem that we have is that these parties continue to spread because event organizers believe that government isn’t doing anything about it,” Leavitt says.
However, some people who know the event planners are pushing back on the charges. Some of them were able to participate in the Zoom press conference. One man, Marcus Wing, took exception to Leavitt’s characterization of the organizers “profiting” from the pandemic.
Wing asked, “Are you aware they didn’t take any money at this event?” Leavitt responded, “There are more ways of profiting than just monetary. This provided enormous an enormous benefit in public relations for their business.”
Wing also questioned whether Leavitt would file charges against the people who planned large protests over the summer, even though there weren’t any attempts to enforce social distancing and masks.
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