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New Salt Lake law bans masks during Olympics

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A carefully crafted ordinance will prohibit protesters from wearing masks in Salt Lake City during the Olympics.

This week the City Council, responding to urging from Salt Lake Police Chief Rick Dinse, enacted the ban on face coverings. But the members noted that the law won't apply to demonstrators who don ski masks to keep warm, nor will it prohibit peaceful protesters from wearing costumes.

Utah Animal Rights Coalition leader Sean Diener brought a silent friend in a Holstein cow costume to the council meeting to demonstrate his group's peaceful intent. He asked the council and police to continue allowing such costumes, and reminded them of UARC's plans to protest the Olympic Arts Festival rodeo Feb. 9-11 in Farmington.

The cow is in no danger of arrest, Dinse said. Mask wearers subject to the ban will be those trying to conceal their identities before inciting a riot. In cities where demonstrations turned violent, the chief said, leaders donned dark hoods, making it difficult for police to apprehend them later. "This is one tool we have to avoid people coming into our community (to) destroy property or commit violence," Dinse said.