What happens next to 11 people charged with allegedly disrupted school board meeting?
Jul 7, 2021, 5:43 PM
(Granite School District Meeting May 4, 2021, screenshot)
SALT LAKE CITY — In May, with just a few weeks left in the school year, a Granite School Board meeting went off the rails. Dozens of protestors began chanting, “No More Masks,” forcing officials to end the meeting early. Now, 11 people are charged with disrupting a public meeting.
The Granite School District said the group was protesting mandatory use of masks in schools, despite many of them not having any association with the district as parents or residents.
What’s next for the 11 charged?
Former prosecutor and defense attorney Greg Skordas joined Dave Noriega and Morgan Lyon Cotti, associate director of the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the University of Utah, to discuss the possible outcomes of the legal cases.
Skordas said it is a crime to disrupt a public meeting.
“It’s a mid-level misdemeanor. It’s not a serious crime. Nobody’s going to prison, but it is a crime to disrupt a public meeting or procession if you do so in a way that obstructs the flow of the meeting,” he said.
Identifying the suspects
“We’ve talked about so many protests — some outside, some inside — over the past year and a half. What is the line that was crossed by these 11 individuals?” Lyon Cotti asked.
The South Salt Lake Attorney is in charge of the criminal proceedings. And since many of those facing charges didn’t have a connection with the district, authorities claimed the search for the suspect was complicated.
“There are actually 12 people [who] were identified on the video as people [who] were disrupting. What’s happened is it’s taken this period of time to identify who those 12 people are,” explained Skordas. “They [city of South Salt Lake] looked at the video, and they’re going through and identifying people who made comments and who were disruptive by their picture and trying to decide who that person was,” Skordas said.
The city has been able to identify 11 of the 12 people accused of disrupting a public meeting. Authorities are still working to figure out who the twelfth person is.
The misdemeanor charge carries the potential for a year in a jail paired with a $2,5000 fine. However, Skordas doesn’t foresee anyone being sentenced to behind bars.
“What happens next with these cases? How are they adjudicated? What are you expecting?” Lyon Cotti asked.
“My sense is that the City of South Salt Lake will offer them some sort of a diversion or abeyance, you know, stay out of trouble for six months and we’ll will dismiss this case. Nobody’s looking for jail,” Skordas said.
“The 11 individuals may also say, ‘We want our day in court. We want to go to trial.’ There could possibly be 11 jury trials in the next year over this conduct.”
“Boy, that would be grabbing a tiger by the tail, wouldn’t it?” Dave said. “Greg Skordas, thank you so much for helping us weed through this story, really fascinating.”
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