On Monday night, protesters gathered in downtown Provo, Utah. As has become the norm in several cities, protesters blocked streets and surrounded vehicles that were simply trying to pass through. Local media initially carried the protesters’ story uncritically.
Roughly 100 people took to Center Street on Monday protesting police brutality, the latest demonstration in weeks of protests across the Beehive state. However, what demonstrators say was a peaceful protest appeared to turn violent, with protesters claiming multiple cars tried to ram into them and Provo police investigating the gunshot report.
“Right now we have the reports of some shots being fired, so we’re just looking into that right now,” said Provo Police Sgt. Nisha King.
Video told the story. A masked protester calmly raised a firearm and fired into the car, striking the driver.
Protesters continued their information campaign and threats to anyone in the area and those just attempting to pass through.
At about 9:30 p.m. the scene was still tense, with cars continuing to drive through the lines of people, protesters jumping on cars and hitting windows. Demonstrators marched to the Provo Police Department and were met with officers in riot gear. Amid calls to disperse and threats of arrest from police, protesters chanted “hands up, don’t shoot.”
“People have been hurt, things have been damaged, time to leave,” yelled one officer dressed in riot gear.
“We’ve been hurt, we’ve been peaceful,” protesters responded.
If any were hurt, it was because they were illegally blocking streets and threatening drivers.
A protest organizer took to a megaphone and urged everyone to peacefully disperse, yelling “If you support our movement you will peacefully go.”
And if you don’t support their movement…?
Tuesday night, Provo police arrested two in connection with the shooting.
The victim, a 60-year-old Provo resident, remained hospitalized Tuesday but was “stable,” according to police. The man was not part of the protest or counterprotest that had been going on, but was just driving in the area, said Provo Police Sgt. Nisha King.
Tuesday night, King confirmed two people had been arrested in connection with the shooting. Jesse Taggart, 33, of Salt Lake City, was arrested for investigation of attempted aggravated murder, King said. He also faces allegations of aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, rioting, threatening use of a weapon in a fight, criminal mischief and firing a weapon near a highway.
Samantha Darling, 27, of Ogden, was arrested for investigation of obstruction of justice and rioting.
Both were being booked into Utah County Jail.
Andy Ngo has mugshots of the alleged shooter and the other arrested activist.
Samantha Darling, 27, of Ogden, Utah, was arrested at the Black Lives Matter riot in Provo. She's been charged with obstruction of justice & rioting. Her social media posts are filled with support for BLM. https://t.co/LG7vv72U8G pic.twitter.com/3t2FVSWbq2
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) July 1, 2020
Police are seeking what they believe was a second gunman among the protesters.
There are multiple important points in all this. One is that when protesters are allowed to block streets, very bad things can happen very quickly. In Austin over the weekend, a man whose car was surrounded by protesters waved a gun at them, apparently just to get through the menacing crowd.
Another is the fact that the shooter fired directly into the vehicle, then evidently pocketed his weapon and continued protesting — and the protesters allowed him to continue protesting with them. In fact, see the quote above. They threatened others just passing through.
After the shooting, video shows the gunman then “conceals the firearm and continues to protest,” Geyerman said. “This same protester later approached another vehicle at 500 North and University Avenue, striking and breaking the window with the handgun.”
How many of the “peaceful” protesters aided the shooter’s attempt to get away with the attempted murder of an innocent man?