How Does a Racist White Militia Get Away With Pepper-Spraying a Veteran with PTSD and A Black Woman? When Peaceful Protesters Get Slapped With Felonies.
By: John Sullivan
Founder of The Black Fist Coalition
On August 7, 2020, Black Lives Matter supporters rallied at the Cottonwood Heights Police Department. They were protesting against the police brutality shown to peaceful protesters in Cottonwood Heights just five days earlier. During this protest, they were met with opposition by a group called Utah Citizens’ Alarm (UCA), which was formed to protect the community from “violent” protesters.
The protesters formed in the middle of the square, surrounded by the white militia group. Many of the Utah Citizens’ Alarm members tried to instigate responses from the Black Lives Matter organization.
An older UCA member stood, lifting his shirt to expose his hairy white chest, rubbed his stomach. Other UCA members tried to force themselves into the crowd to cause conflict with protesters. Armed individuals encircled the group, carrying AR 15s, shotguns, bats, and other weapons.
Thanks to the composure and tolerance of the protesters, the protest remained mostly peaceful for a time. As the event concluded, many of the protesters left to go home. A few individuals stayed, including a former Marine. UCA started making various noises that sounded like gunshots, and the veteran had a PTSD attack. Witnesses say the source of the noises was clear: Landon Buttars, a long term member of UCA, had assaulted multiple people with pepper spray.
On-site law enforcement did not intervene in this altercation until many of the protesters approached them with videos of the incident. They then detained the Buttars temporarily, but later released him on no charges.
Now, this wouldn't be an issue if the Blue Pigs held everyone accountable for their actions.
When protesters simply march through the street, Utah district attorneys collaborate with police to slap them with rioting charges, a third-degree felony in Utah. Other protesters, further expressing their frustration, pour red paint onto the street outside a corrupt district attorney’s office, and now face life in prison because of first-degree felony charges of “gang enhancement.”
Time and time again, the police show their internal bigotry when they uphold the law. Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall’s Executive Order 5 on police reform validates protesters by exposing huge issues within Utah law enforcement, issues that demand immediate attention. But why release these new policies now? Why not two months ago, a year ago, or even a decade ago? These are long-standing issues that require societal change on every level, more than just press releases that read like publicity stunts.
We want to reiterate our concern to local lawmakers, including Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall:
Landon Buttars assaulted multiple people on August 7, including a veteran with PTSD, making him more criminal and violent than any of the protesters the district attorneys have slammed with felony charges. The fact Buttars was let go with no charges is absurd.
If a person of color or other protesters expressing their first amendment right were to do what Buttars did in self-defense against white supremacists or violent cops, they would be arrested. They would be slapped with charges that far outweigh the actual offenses. This is not speculation, it is fact because far more peaceful individuals than Buttars have been charged and face life in prison.
We call on Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall, Cottonwood Heights Mayor Michael Peterson, and elected officials all around the state to use their political clout to uphold justice for protesters expressing their first amendment rights and to unroot police brutality, corruption, and racism in every corner in Utah. We have had enough of the double standards benefiting white supremacy, and enough of political passivity in the name of moderation. It is time to take action.