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Protesters ejected during a mostly peaceful Inland Port public meeting

People wait to voice their concerns during the Utah Inland Port Authority meeting at the State Capitol Thursday evening. Some protesters were ejected from the mostly peaceful meeting. Photo: Kelli Pierce

SALT LAKE CITY – It was a far cry from previous meetings about or demonstrations against the Inland Port.

But protesters still made their voices heard during a meeting of the Utah Inland Port Authority at the State Capitol Thursday evening–as long as they did not disrupt the proceedings and get ejected.

The meeting started with protesters wearing surgical masks blowing whistles as Port Authority members tried to speak. Utah Highway Patrol officers, who had been checking bags outside the building, ejected each person found blowing a whistle.

Most protesters held “Stop the Port” signs as person after person made their strong feelings known.

Activist Clark T. Clements shared most attendees’ concerns about the freight storage and distribution hub planned for Salt Lake City’s northwest side.

“We don’t have any kind of plan that we can assess, any kind of environmental impact statement or health assessment. And we don’t know exactly what industries they’re planning on putting out there,” Clements said.

Others were worried about potential air and water pollution and the destruction of bird sanctuaries and wetlands.

Some people walked out or jeered when Port Authority Executive Director Jack Hedge read a prepared statement addressing the concerns the commission has heard and pledging to make the port environmentally friendly.

However, after the meeting, Hedge acknowledged the community’s worries about a perceived lack of transparency.

“We’ve got to do a better job of letting people know where we are and what we’re doing,” Hedge said.

At least one person was arrested during an Inland Port meeting in August.

Several activists were arrested during an Inland Port protest in July after several people were assaulted and damage was done to the Chamber of Commerce office in downtown Salt Lake City.