Over in Utah on July 7th, someone in a traveling group of friends is pulled over for speeding, one of their friends stomps a nearby pro law enforcement sign, and a result she now faces hate crime “enhancement” charges.
As reported by St. George News a Garfield County Sheriff’s deputy pulled over a vehicle in the city of Panguitch for speeding. As the cop was writing this person a ticket, the charging documents say (in terms of probable cause), an individuals’ friend group approached them in an “attempt to console them.”
Now onto the alleged hate crime part.
“I observed one of the friends, later identified to be Lauren Gibson, stomping on a ‘Back the Blue’ sign next to where the traffic stop was conducted, crumble it up in a destructive manner and throw it into a trash can all while smirking in an intimidating manner towards me,” wrote the officer.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Gibson says she and her friends were heading back to California after camping in Panguitch, Utah. They traveled in a caravan style, explaining why Gibson and this friend group was able to console their buddy who got pulled over for speeding.
Lauren Gibson said they had a “back the blue” sign handy and kept it in one of the group’s cars after coming across it on the sign of the road. While the interview allows Gibson room to argue her intent, she acknowledges the incident happened.
“I just wanted to, I don’t know, make her feel better or something or stand up for her," Gibson told The Daily Beast.
In addition, the outlet confirms that Utah’s current hate crime statute does give protected status to police officers.
The Utah Code as of May 2020 defines hate crime penalties as whenever a primary offense is committed "with the intent to intimidate or terrorize another person or with reason to believe that his action would intimidate or terrorize that person.”
It’s further specified by the Salt Lake Tribune that the officer asked her where she got the sign. Lauren Gibson initially lied and said she got it from her mother, but the cop was able to specify that the particular signs she stomped on were made locally. That's when Gibson changed her story to say she found it on the ground.
The deputy arrested her on grounds of criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.
“Due to [the woman] destroying property that did not belong to her in a manner to attempt to intimidate law enforcement, I placed her under arrest,” per the affidavit.
Lauren Gibson was released from custody on the grounds she promises to appear in court to answer the charges.