Mass event organizers apologize, legal consequences still likely

Nov 2, 2020, 6:48 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2020, 9:03 am

UTAH COUNTY — The group behind an event that attracted up to 10,000 people in Utah County on Halloween night say they never intended for it to get so big. But even with their apology, police say they may face some sort of punishment for lacking a permit for the event.

The Utah County event that got out of hand

People who work with Utah Tonight Events say they intended “The Protest On Halloween” to raise awareness about the negative side effects of the COVID-19 shutdown.  Karson Jensen volunteered to photograph the event, and says the organizers sent direct invitations to their followers.  However, he says those followers invited their friends, who invited more friends, and so on.  Eventually, word spread like wildfire.

“The organizers have said to me they’re sorry for the unanticipated events and the way things unfolded,” Jensen said.

Jensen believes the fact that so many people attended the event proves many people are suffering from the effects of the isolation caused by the coronavirus.  He pointed to stories about increased domestic violence cases; he also believes people’s mental health needs aren’t fully being addressed.  Jensen believes the event organizers still want to address these issues, but, will they hold another event like this?

“In that fashion?  No.  I do not believe, to my knowledge, that it will continue in that fashion,” Jensen said.

Concern from health officials

Health officials worry about the large number of people at “The Protest” who didn’t appear to be wearing masks.  But they also worry about a message reportedly shared as a story on Utah Tonight’s Instagram account. 

The since-removed post urged people to “Get life back to normal by not getting tested for COVID-19.”  The post continued: “Getting tested simply provides the mob with more ammunition to control our lives.” People who saw the story sent it to KSL before it was removed. 

(A screen shot of since-removed Utah Tonight Instagram story.)

Representatives of the Salt Lake County Health Department say this isn’t the first time they’ve seen people spreading messages like this.  They tell KSL they’ve seen three or four similar posts urging people to avoid COVID-19 testing.  They say this advice is extremely reckless, since people could be infecting others without knowing it.  Plus, this doesn’t allow health workers to track where the virus is spreading.

Possible legal consequences

Even though the organizers are apologizing, they’re not off the hook.  Utah County Sheriff’s Sergeant Spencer Cannon says the event planners will likely face some sort of legal consequences, but investigators need more time to determine what those consequences will be.

“We have events that get carried out like this once, twice or three times a year.  It’s not very often that we actually get it finalized on the day of,” he said.

Cannon says, as far as they know, the group didn’t even apply for any kind of mass gathering license.  He says many things can go wrong if event organizers don’t plan everything properly.

“You’ve got as low as 3,000 and as many as 10,000, and no toilets, no plan for parking and no plan for a medical response,” Cannon said.

Today’s Top Stories


Intermountain milestone 1 million tests...
Mark Jones

Intermountain Healthcare announces plans to build hospital in Ephraim

Intermountain Healthcare has plans to develop 35 acres of land in the Ephraim area into a new hospital.
1 day ago
At 5800 So. 1400 W. you find an irrigation canal that attracts  a lot of waterfowl, seagulls and ev...
Mark Jones

Officials warn of additional cases of avian influenza

With the fall migration of wild waterfowl, state officials are warning bird owners to be prepared for additional cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza or avian influenza.
1 day ago
Utah homes are recording high levels of radon gas. 
Photo credit: Laura Seitz, Deseret News...
Heather Kelly and Elizabeth Weiler

Utah homes have some of the highest levels of radon gas

New research finds that Utah homes have the 5th highest levels of radon gas when compared to the rest of the nation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that one in 15 homes in the U.S. have dangerous levels of radon gas. Utah is at much higher risk, as the agency found one in […]
1 day ago
Image of the semi-truck that broke through the concrete barrier and rolled into the embankment (Pho...
Chandler Holt

Semi driver dies after driving off side of roadway

A semi drove off the right side of the road, breaking through the concrete barrier, on US-6 at milepost 185 in Spanish Fork canyon.
1 day ago
WWE Essential...
Zoe Sottile, CNN

John Cena breaks Make-A-Wish record after granting 650 wishes

Actor, wrestling legend, and perpetual meme subject John Cena has completed a new accomplishment: breaking the world record for most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
3 days ago
Utah Republicans are looking to ban transgender surgeries and other hormone-based care....
Mark Jones

Utah to receive additional $4.9 million from FEMA in response to COVID-19

FEMA has announced Utah will receive an additional $4.9 million to help with the housing costs during the COVID-19 pandemic.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

a worker with a drill in an orange helmet installs a door in the house...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

Home improvement tip: Increase the value of your home by weatherproofing doors

Make sure your home is comfortable before the winter! Seasonal maintenance keeps your home up to date. Read our tips on weatherproofing doors.
Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
A paper reading IRS, internal revenue service is pictured...
Jordan Wilcox

The best strategies for dealing with IRS tax harassment | You have options!

Learn how to deal with IRS tax harassment. This guide will teach you how to stop IRS phone calls and letters, and how to handle an IRS audit.
spend a day at Bear Lake...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

You’ll love spending the day at Bear Lake | How to spend a day at Bear Lake

Bear Lake is a place that needs to be experienced. Spend a day at Bear Lake.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
Mass event organizers apologize, legal consequences still likely