'Traffic delays' announced by police when unlawful ceasefire protest blocks 'the street for Rafah' in Salt Lake City

The protest was a response to an Israeli military operation to rescue hostages from Rafah in Gaza.


Anti-Israel demonstrators unlawfully blocked traffic in Salt Lake City, Utah on Tuesday evening. During the protest, the Salt Lake Police Department (SLCPD) responded in a post that drivers should expect "traffic delays in the area" and instructed locals to "use detours" instead. The protest took place in response to an Israeli military operation that rescued two hostages on Monday.  

The group gathered near Pioneer Park in Salt Lake City in the evening as announced by the SLC branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSLSLC) and the Palestinian Solidarity Association of Utah (PSAU). Video from one of the group's Instagram stories was posted on X which stated that the group had taken over two intersections at 400 South and 400 West as well as 500 South and 400 West.   

After the group had gathered and began protesting, SLCPD released a statement about the incident.

"The crowd size is estimated to be about 150 people. There will be traffic delays in the area. Please use detours and follow the directions of officers on scene," the first post stated. A second read that the officers left the scene when the "demonstration [was] over."  

Under, SLC code 14.56.040, a permit is required for such gathering to block traffic and it "is unlawful for any person, corporation, partnership, association or other entity, public or private, to impede access to, or cause the closure of, any street or sidewalk" without prior permission.

Exceptions to this include "gatherings, demonstrations, or protests of fifty people or less" as well as "a spontaneous event held at a public forum." Neither may apply in this case as the SLCPD posted saying there were "about 150 people" protesting in the streets and the organizers had announced it prior.

General practices of a permit process would have informed the SLPD of the event. In a statement to The Post Millennial, SLCPD wrote it “did not have prior information about the group’s intent to march.” There were no arrests reported. 

A reporter from ABC4 spoke to Denise Weaver who, as the outlet published, "Helped organize Tuesday’s event.” This seemed to be in contradiction to what Weaver told the outlet. She stated, “This was a spontaneous protest, and I think that that might seem a little bit shocking that we chose to block this street, but we don’t use ‘shut it down’ rhetorically."  

In the announcement for the protest from PSLSLC and PSAU on Monday, the caption read, "Israel is indiscriminately bombing Rafah where 1.3 million Palestinians are seeking refuge from the Israeli regime's genocidal attacks on Northern Gaza."   

What the group labeled as Israel "indiscriminately bombing Rafah" was part of an operation to save 2 Israeli hostages, according to the Associated Press. Air strikes provided cover for the rescue operation and according to local officials in Gaza, there were 67 Palestinians killed as a result. 

The hostages rescued were identified as Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Har, 70, who were taken during the Oct. 7 terrorist attacks.  

A full statement to TPM from the SLCPD can be read below:  

"The Salt Lake City Police Department respects the rights of people to peaceably assemble. Individuals or groups present on streets, sidewalks, and parks generally have the right to assemble, rally, demonstrate, protest or otherwise express their views and opinions through varying forms of communication, including the distribution of printed matter. The purpose of a law enforcement presence at the scene of public assemblies and demonstrations is to preserve the peace, to protect life and prevent the destruction of property. On Tuesday, February 13, 2024, the Department received information about a group of people who began marching in the streets around Pioneer Park. The Department did not have prior information about the group’s intent to march. When the group began marching, the Department dispatched officers to the scene to help ensure pedestrian and traffic safety. The Department attempted to communicate with people associated with the event to minimize disruption to the community. After marching, within a small geographical area, the group returned to Pioneer Park without incident.” 

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