Utah Teen Faces Hate Crime Allegation After Destroying ‘Back The Blue’ Sign

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Gabrielle Temaat Contributor
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A teen in southern Utah was arrested for disorderly conduct and criminal mischief and faces a hate crime allegation after stomping on a ‘Back the Blue’ sign, ABC4 News reported Tuesday.

Police officers were conducting a traffic stop when the teen’s friends approached and tried to console the officers, according to ABC4 News. One of the teens, 19-year-old Lauren Gibson, allegedly began stomping on a ‘Back the Blue‘ sign in the traffic stop area, then crumpled up the sign and threw it away while smirking at the deputy, ABC4 News reported.

The deputy reported that the sign was from the Garfield County Sheriff’s office, according to ABC4 News. (RELATED: House Passes COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, Signature Away From Becoming Law)

“Due to the demeanor displayed by Gibson in attempts to intimidate law enforcement while destroying a ‘Pro Law Enforcement’ sign the allegations are being treated as a ‘Hate Crime’ enhanced allegation,” arresting documents said, according to ABC4 News. Utah state statute designates “status as a law enforcement officer” as a personal attribute in which an allegation of a hate crime can be added to a charge, ABC4 News reported.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah (ACLU) released a statement about Gibson’s arrest Tuesday.

“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,” the ACLU of Utah stated.

Last month, a police officer was fatally shot in Colorado because he was wearing a police uniform and badge. Another officer was dragged to death by a car in Georgia.