ACLU of Utah Statement on ‘Back the Blue’ Hate Crime Enhancement in Garfield County
July 12, 2021 | We are extremely troubled and disappointed by the recent decision of the Garfield County Attorney's office to add a hate crime enhancement to charges against an individual alleged to have stomped on a "Back the Blue" sign and ‘crumble[d] it in a destructive manner’ because a police officer alleges that she was 'smirking in an intimidating manner' towards him. This kind of charging decision sends an extremely chilling message to the community that the government will seek harsher punishment for people charged with crimes who disagree with police actions. This concern is even greater because we do not view the enhancement as supportable under the language of the statute. We consistently warn that enhancements are oftentimes used to single out unpopular groups or messages rather than provide protections for marginalized communities. This case has confirmed those warnings.