Demonstrators Gather Days After Cottonwood Heights Protest Turned Violent
COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – Hundreds of people gathered in Cottonwood Heights Monday — some rallying for the police department, and some protesting against it.
They were staged in front of City Hall for hours. Among the demonstrators was about 300 members of the militia group Utah Citizens Alarm, who said they were there to keep the peace.
The demonstrations stemmed from a Sunday protest that turned violent, leading to the arrest of eight people. Both the protesters and law enforcement defended their actions.
At Monday’s event, two distinct sides formed on opposite corners of the street, and the crowds grew as the night wore on. While discussions got heated at times, the protest never escalated to violence.
Resident Jessica Eichbauer was one of the eight protesters arrested Sunday. She said she was trying to stop police from beating a man with a baseball bat.
“(Officers) slammed him to the ground,” she said. “Two officers sat on top of my stomach and they pepper sprayed me.”
Resident John Hammond lives in the neighborhood where the violence broke out.
“We found wrenches in the middle of the street,” he said. “We found all kinds of stuff that you would use to throw. I thought the police did a great job, and I was so glad that they were there.”
Casey Robertson is a member Utah Citizens Alarm, and he said that while the group may look intimidating, their purpose was to deescalate and to deter violence.
“I think the police handled it well,” he said. “But they were outnumbered, and there was just explosive violence.”
He said he thinks if the militia was at the Sunday protest, then the violence wouldn’t have happened at all.
Eventually, demonstrators who were voicing their concerns over police brutality joined the protest to call out the actions of the Cottonwood Heights Police Department.
“When we’re fighting like a bunch of kids in the sandbox, it just delays the progress that we should have already all made,” said protester Tyeise Bellamy.
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