During a meeting about discrimination based on COVID-19 vaccine status, three people were removed by police, including one man who was arrested while wearing a “We the People” t-shirt.
This is not a good look for America.
The incident occurred earlier this month in Salt Lake City, Utah, during a state Senate committee hearing on legislation that would prevent businesses and certain government entities from requiring vaccine passports, KSTU-TV reported.
It was a packed house with a contentious issue on the agenda, and Senate Revenue and Taxation Committee Chair Dan McCay had already been forced to call a recess, citing an unruly crowd, prior to the arrest.
Before reconvening the meeting, McCay reportedly issued a warning to remove signs and stickers that demonstrated support for House Bill 60, an edict that seemed to make things worse.
“They said you have to take everything off that’s political. Your stickers, your sign, we don’t allow waving. We’re going, ‘Tyranny. Welcome to Australia,’” witness Diane Anderson told the news outlet.
“There was a lot of people in there. He took off his sticker; he didn’t take his shirt off, and they had the Highway Patrol come and take him out, saying he was disrupting the meeting,” Anderson continued.
“It was in recess. He wasn’t disrupting,” she claimed.
The sticker in question read “Vote yes on HB60,” KSTU-TV reported.
Network reporter Daniel Woodruff shared photos and footage of the unidentified man being cuffed and led out of the room by Utah Highway Patrol officers.
“Things just got heated FAST as the UHP took away the guy in cuffs after he didn’t comply with what they were asking him to do,” Woodruff tweeted on March 1.
“People here are angry,” he pointed out.
Things just got heated FAST as the UHP took away the guy in cuffs after he didn’t comply with what they were asking him to do. People here are angry. #utpol #utleg pic.twitter.com/BPfmWYhgLz
— Daniel Woodruff (@danielmwoodruff) March 1, 2022
The man was quickly subdued and hustled away, but the crowd became more agitated and erupted in anger over the perceived injustice of his arrest, especially those who thought it had to do with the message on his shirt.
“This is wrong,” one man can be heard yelling. “This is not okay.”
“You guys should be ashamed of yourself,” an unidentified woman yelled. “You swore an oath to us, not the government.”
The man with the sticker was slapped with a Class B misdemeanor and released, and the matter is now in the hands of the Salt Lake City Justice Court. Two others who had shouted at McCay were also removed, though no one else was charged.
Utah State Senate President Stuart Adams called what happened an “unfortunate incident” and said there would be a review of the process.
“We’re kind of sorry that happened, and my hope would be that we would move on and that we wouldn’t want to see anything like that result in criminal charges,” the Republican lawmaker said.
“We obviously have great policies in place, and we hope to perfect those as we continue on,” Adams added.
“We’re looking at the incidents, and we’ll just continue to, again, try to learn from what we’re doing.”
As for House Bill 60, it eventually passed 7 to 2.
By all accounts, it appeared the crowd was already amped up over the issue, and maintaining order in that situation is a vital part of the political process.
The officers acted on the instructions of the officials in charge of the meeting — as they should have, but the use of force to subdue a citizen who is passionate about the proliferation of tyranny is precisely the wrong thing to do in that situation.
Americans have been subjected to two years of government overreach in the name of this pandemic while those in charge continue to implement those restrictions even while the virus fizzles out.
Though the citizens who attend these hearings are subject to the rules therein and should have complied, it’s understandable that they would be chomping at the bit to fire back at elected officials whom they perceive as the embodiment of this tyranny — whether they are or not.
The officials and the citizens involved in this incident are responsible for their own actions, but perhaps both sides are acting on a small fragment part of this mountain of an issue that has turned this country into a tinderbox.
It was necessary to bring down the temperature of the room and quash the conflict — but perhaps the lesson here is that quibbling over stickers is the exact wrong way to de-escalate a tense situation.