In Salt Lake City, Utah, prosecutors indicted seven Black Lives Matter protesters for splashing red paint on the road and District Attorney’s building in July and shattering windows there.
Salt Lake City District Attorney Sim Gill qualified these acts as criminal and “in a group,” which increases their penalties under the state criminal code. Usually felony charges carry a sentence of 1 to 15 years in prison, but if committed as part of a group, this can be increased to life. Prosecutors said the charges were justified as the protesters acted together and caused damage estimated at $ 50,000. Despite this, Gill told reporters that he did not think anyone would go to jail for this case. Criminal cases are often resolved when defendants plead guilty to lesser offenses. And, he stressed, this is not a protest – it is about people who behave in a criminal way. The allegations were met negatively in the city, with Mayor Erin Mendenhall arguing that “while I believe there should be consequences for breaking the law, the potential punishment protesters face is excessive.”