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Counterprotester charged with assault at Black Lives Matter rally

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A man affiliated with Utah Citizens’ Alarm who declined to give his name holds a rifle while standing with counterprotesters as Black Lives Matter Utah holds a protest outside of the Cottonwood Heights police department on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — A South Weber man was charged Thursday with deploying pepper spray on another man during a Black Lives Matter protest in Cottonwood Heights.

Landon Daniel Buttars, 21, is charged in 3rd District Court with assault, a class A misdemeanor.

On Aug. 7, several hundred people attended a rally organized by Black Lives Matter outside of the Cottonwood Heights Police Department. More than 150 counterprotesters, including heavily armed members of Utah Citizens Alarm, a group that said it was formed “to ensure peace” after violence erupted at a protest in Provo, also attended.

Near the end of the rally, a man said he “intervened when a BLM protester engaged with the UCA group” and was subsequently pepper-sprayed by a member of the Utah Citizens Alarm, according to charging documents. The victim was sprayed in the eyes and “temporarily lost his vision and his ability to breathe.”

The spray hit several people, including a woman who has asthma and was treated at the scene by paramedics and later transported to a local hospital, according to a witness.

Police obtained video that recorded the incident. Charging documents note that both Black Lives Matter and Utah Citizens Alarm members gave the victim water after he was sprayed to try and decontaminate him.