Promoters of Large Utah County Halloween Party are Raising Money to Pay Their Fines

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(Courtesy Unsplash)

By Porshai Nielsen, News Writer

 

Utah event company The Tribe, who claims “The Protest on Halloween,” was not their doing, has been charged with nine misdemeanors and fined $60,000 for their contribution to a rise in positive COVID-19 cases following the event.

On Feb. 9, The Tribe posted on their Instagram account asking for help via a GoFundMe entitled, “Help The Tribe Pay for Legal Fees.”

“The Tribe is in humble need of assistance to pay for legal fees and to fight to protect the right to gather, not only for event hosts but for all businesses who are struggling under the weight of constantly-changing rules and regulations associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,” the caption said. 

Erik Scott Little and Tanner Valerio are co-founders of The Tribe and were among the nine people charged with a class B misdemeanor by the Utah County Justice Court for disobeying public health laws the night of Oct. 31. 

The Tribe, established in 2016, claims to have also experienced financial hardship due to the pandemic much like other small businesses. Their GoFundMe says that they were forced to cancel 17 events in which their company was negatively impacted. They also say that no money was made/or accepted by The Tribe the night of the Halloween party.

The day before the party, the Utah Department of Health had alerted the public that Utah County was a “high transmission area.” This meant that anyone in Utah county attending a public gathering must abide by the regulations set in place such as less than 10 people, six feet apart, masks, etc.

“The Protest on Halloween,” had no such regulations. Many photos that have since been taken down or deleted by party goers depicted thousands of people dancing under lights and a stage without masks or social distancing.

View drone footage of the event was tweeted by Sydney Glenn, a reporter with Fox 13.

It wasn’t until a person was dangerously hurt crowd surfing that authorities were called and arrived on the scene at the party. Brigham Young University Barstool posted footage of the party including the young woman crowd surfing and injuring herself.

The Instagram caption read, “Covid flying through the party like.”

Comments on the post include people claiming to be the woman’s family members, stating that the post is not funny because she was seriously injured.

The Tribe continues to maintain that the activities that night were independent of their company. The GoFundMe says that people gathered on public lands and did not pay to be there.

It also mentions some of The Tribe’s beliefs, “The Tribe believes that the negative effects of social isolation (ie. depression, suicide, anxiety, etc.) are just as significant and harmful to our community as the negative effects caused by COVID-19.”

The Utah County Attorney David Leavitt held a press conference on Feb 8, discussing the charges and the investigation.

“While I fully understand the desire to gather, we have a responsibility to our neighbors, families, and friend’s health and welfare. Knowingly violating the laws and failing to comply with orders, won’t get a pass,” Leavitt said.

The co-founders of The Tribe have not been quiet about their disagreement with the COVID-19 regulations in their own county, but also Salt Lake County. Little posted an Instagram story on Feb. 16 about the 5 bars that were closed in Salt Lake City due to violating COVID regulations.

“It looks like all they [the bars] have to do is write a letter to the Health Department basically apologizing. We ended up getting charged with the exact same thing, but in our case we got nine separate misdemeanors and $60,000 in fines,” Little said. 

The Instagram story caption was, “the hypocrisy.”

The Tribe’s GoFundMe currently has had $5,674 donated with a goal of $76,345. Many of the comments on their Instagram are less than supportive, most of them saying the charges and fines are well deserved and that the fundraiser should be reported.

 

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@porshainielsen