Sheriff won't block protesters in county

Tuesday, January 29, 2002

The Davis County Clipper (UT)

By Renee Turner

FARMINGTON – The show must go on – and so will the protests.

The Davis County Sheriff's Department says it won't block any lawful protests during the Olympic Torch run through Davis County, nor during the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo.


The Sheriff's Department issued the statement in response to animal rights Protesters' accusations of harassment by local law enforcement and Olympic organizers along the route of the Olympic Torch. The torch will travel through Davis County on February 9, 10 and 11.

"If any protester, or anybody else, does something illegal, it will be dealt with swiftly and appropriately, however," said Chief Deputy Kevin McCleod. "My impression of the reported contention with protesters on the Olympic Torch route is that it's a nonissue. We are not out to look for any little excuse to block their activities.

State officials are less lenient. The main torch run for the county is on Antelope Island, under the jurisdiction of the State Parks and Recreation. Garth Taylor, park manager, said park officials do not have a designated protest area in the park. Further, the truck animal rights activists have been driving along the torch route in protest of the Olympic rodeo, will not be allowed to drive the Antelope Island route with the torch caravan.

The truck has a large television screen on the roof showing footage of carnage happening to animals during rodeos. "All vehicles, including that one, will have to park at the White Rock Bay parking area, and people will be shuttled over to the party at the marina," said Taylor. "We're not going to be asking people if they're protesters as they enter the park. Everyone has the right to free speech," he said.

Colleen Gardner, responsible for coordinating the campaign against the Olympic rodeo for the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, said protesters have been cited or detained at every major torch celebration except for San Francisco. In some instances, she said police have told her they were alerted in advance by Olympic organizers that the truck would be there and were instructed to cite the vehicle.

Gardner has driven the truck, donated by SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness), through several cities. She has been cited for honking the horn, while other vehicles were blasting theirs as they passed.

One driver was ordered to turn off the LED lights atop the TV screen which read "Stop the Olympic Rodeo" while the Coca Cola truck passed with identical LED's in exactly the same place telling spectators the torch was coming soon, Gardner claimed.

Heightened security for the Olympics, while American is at war with terrorism, has caused law enforcement officials to be extra cautious about safety.

But, said McCleod, "We don't have any information to indicate UARC is violent. They have publicly stated many times their opposition to violence. That doesn't stop violent individuals from infiltrating their organization, though," added McCleod.

Sean Diener, UARC's executive director, formerly from Layton, said, "All we are planning in Davis County are peaceful demonstrations."

"It would be inappropriate for anyone to become violent or to even disrupt a speech or ceremony of any kind. We just want to e seen, so we can educate people."

Of equal concern to UARC and the Sheriff's department is the potential for conflict between rodeo fans and animal rights activists. "We are as concerned with protection the protesters as we are with policing them," said McCleod.

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