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Man charged with assaulting police during Salt Lake City riot in May

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Police push protesters back as they violate curfew to protest the death of George Floyd in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Daylong protests moved across the city Saturday after a peaceful demonstration against police brutality turned violent.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — A man wearing a T-shirt with the words “Love is the answer” is now wanted for allegedly attacking two police officers during the Salt Lake City riot in May.

Ethan Glen Barsketis, 24, of Salt Lake City, was charged Tuesday in 3rd District Court with assault on a police officer, a second-degree felony; and assault on a police officer, a class A misdemeanor.

Barsketis is the latest of more than a dozen people to be charged in connection with the May 30 incident that started as a peaceful protest decrying the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, and ended with destruction and vandalism throughout the city and at the state Capitol, a Salt Lake City police patrol car overturned and burned, and violent clashes between rioters and police.

Barsketis is accused of attacking a West Valley police officer who had just arrived downtown to help Salt Lake police. As soon as the officer stepped out of his patrol car, “protesters began throwing glass bottles, rocks, lit fireworks and other objects at him,” according to charging documents, including bags of feces and “parts of another vehicle that was set on fire.”

As the officer was attempting to avoid a bottle being thrown at him, he was hit by a baseball that was allegedly thrown by a man wearing a shirt that said “Love is the answer” who kept aggressively approaching officers, the charges state. Police later determined that man was Barsketis.

A second officer was kicked in the kneecap by Barsketis and then hit in the hand by a chunk of concrete, according to charging documents. The officer maintained his position “until he realized blood was dripping from his glove and his fingers were broken,” the charges state.

Police say Barsketis attempted to assault a third officer who had fallen, but ran off after an officer hit him with a baton when he approached, according to the charges.