SALT LAKE CITY — Prosecutors in Salt Lake City are the latest to drop low-level criminal cases for peaceful protesters who have taken to streets after George Floyd’s killing in Minnesota.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill announced the move Thursday, saying city and county prosecutors in his office would not file any such charges in the future.
While he will continue to go after those accused of damaging property and unlawful rioting, Gill won’t pursue convictions for violating curfew or failing to disperse. His announcement is similar to that of other top law enforcers in cities like New York, Dallas and San Francisco.
“This determination is made as a matter of fairness, as a practical resource management consideration, and consistent with this office’s commitment to criminal justice reform,” Gill’s office said in a news release.
The office has declined to charge about three dozen demonstrators and will move to toss the nonviolent counts already filed against four. Prosecutors will ask judges to dismiss the existing charges without prejudice, meaning they could be filed again at a later date. But the office won’t fight expungement requests from those who stay out of trouble, a spokesman confirmed.
Gill urged police who plan to recommend charges for nonviolent offenses “to devote your resources to more serious charges,” like class B misdemeanor charges of rioting and higher.
He said public safety is his first priority, but that includes protecting people’s constitutional rights, especially when no people or property are harmed.