Feedback from August 13 and Beyond | Letters | Salt Lake City Weekly

Feedback from August 13 and Beyond 

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Cottonwood Heights PD Run Amok
An Aug. 2, a block-party-style neighborhood "March for Justice" was disrupted and dismantled when the Cottonwood Heights Police Department trapped 150 grandmothers, men, women, teens and children turning a peaceful procession into a rotten, violent, dangerous affair.

CHPD Chief Russo's grotesque mismanagement of the entire afternoon included calling in police support from across the county, creating an utter embarrassment and, likely, a financial debacle for Cottonwood Heights City. Without a citizen review board or willingness by the city council majority to give meaningful oversight, the CHPD has documented cases of abusing its power increasingly over the years since the city's incorporation in 2005.

I personally witnessed the event that began in Mill Hollow Park at 4 p.m. and concluded with walking to the location where a 19-year-old local was lethally shot twice in the back while fleeing an off-duty CHPD officer two years earlier.

Supported by DanceForRevolution and Black Lives Matter Utah, the march began with speeches invoking the late John Lewis and MLK Jr. and calling citizens to get informed, be involved and vote.

Then moving slowly and gleefully onto Mill Hollow Drive, unarmed— juggling pinwheels, signs and water bottles, and dancing to music—the procession was peaceful and would have moved through its intended loop and returned without incident to the park had six CHPD vehicles not arrived blocking the group in on both its east and west side.

Trapped on black asphalt in 105 degree heat for several minutes, tempers and resentment built. As instructed, group organizers willingly changed their intended route to guide participants onto sidewalks and take a smaller side street because police vehicles continued to block the group's advancement. CHPD again stopped the march on the side street. This is when altercations commenced. Neighbors at that point began calling the police because of the loud and angry voices of trapped people. This was incited by the CHPD.

We know from videos taken that CHPD brutally subdued several participants face down on the pavement for "talking back" to police officers. Inciting emotions with brutality, mine along with numerous other participants was to go to the aid of helpless victims. This resulted in more arrests.

Additionally, why was the assault by CHPD Officer K. Taylor on an elected official (Cottonwood Heights City Councilwoman Tali Bruce) disregarded? How can an officer punch an elected official in the throat and not be, in the least, reprimanded?

All charges against the nine arrested participants should be dropped immediately before CHPD costs the city yet a trundle more money in litigation fees defending a police department gone amok.
Ellen Birrell
Cottonwood Heights

Correction: The final interviews in this week's "Capturing COVID, Part II" on page 16 are republished from the first installment of May 14. In that issue, photos/quotes from Steve & Sara Urquhart and Natalie and Brody were mismatched. They are corrected in this edition. We apologize for the error.

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