Latine Students Recount Negative Experience with Campus Police During Protest


Xiangyao Tang

Students gather outside of the J. Willard Marriott Library to protest the event held by the Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on April 21, 2023. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Vanessa Hudson, Editor in Chief


On April 21, Young Americans for Freedom at Utah held an event that sparked protests from multiple campus organizations. University of Utah Campus Police removed protestors from the event a few minutes after they had started chanting, “Fascists go home!”

Deputy Chief Safety Officer Scott Carver said ultimately they had to escort students out because they were disrupting an event.

“We have no complaints about it,” he said.

According to U student Julio Irungaray, who’s a member of the community organization MECHA, after being escorted out by police, Officer Sgt. Larimie Lancaster told students he was required to open a case because he had confiscated a megaphone from a student. 

Irungaray recounted that the group of students told Officer Lancaster, prior to being escorted out, that an attendee had yanked a student’s arm trying to take the megaphone. The officer said nothing could be done because he had not witnessed it.

The students added Officer Lancaster told them if they tried to pursue any charges against the assaulter, the university would press charges against them for disrupting the meeting. 

Irungaray said at that point, it felt like the police were harassing them. 

“To us, it just felt like intimidation by the police — almost like a threat — saying, ‘if you guys are going to do anything about being a victim of assault we’re going to press charges against you,’” he said.  

Lancaster, a former South Jordan police officer, was not recommended for rehire following several disciplinary actions from the police department. In 2014, Lancaster shot 26-year-old Ty Worthington and the courts ruled the fatal shooting justified. 

Juliet Reynolds, a graduate student, helped organize the rally. She said she worked with the Dean of Students and campus police to inform the school of the protest. 

“The majority of the police officers that were there, really allowed this to be a successful event, but because of one [officer] — that kind of undermines everything — all the good that was done,” she said. 

Reynolds said she witnessed the interaction between Lancaster and the student, and throughout the event, he was “interjecting himself into situations he shouldn’t have been in.” 

“I’ve never witnessed anything like that in my life,” she said. “I was just in shock that this officer was behaving like this in front of all of these students.” 

According to Irungaray, MECHA members noticed there was a difference in how white protesters were being treated versus how they were. 

“Another MECHA member made [a comment] saying that ‘other white people were doing the same militant disruption as we were and they were left alone,’” he said. “So they only kicked the people of color out of the room.”

Irungaray said they felt like their rights had been violated. 

“To us, it was kind of crazy that the police was kind of interacting with a large group of Latinos outside and harassing them, while a bunch of white supremacist fascists were allowed to hold an event inside the school,” he said. 

Lucy Atwood, chairwoman for YAF Utah said via email that it was only until the chanting crossed the point of disrupting the event, police asked students to either stay and listen to the event, or leave.

“The protestors who chose to stay continued to be disruptive throughout the event by intentionally playing phone alarms and going in and out of the space repeatedly letting the doors shut loudly,” she said.

Reynolds thinks incidents like this are why the U’s Department of Public Safety has a bad reputation.

“This person needs to be held accountable … this kind of behavior isn’t tolerated within the police force because they’re here to protect our students,” she said. “They’re not here for any other agenda like that, and this person totally fell short of that.” 

Irungaray said this highlights how he thinks the police is broken as an institution and as a system. 

“This isn’t really just one police officer being racist towards a bunch of kids … so we just felt like this shows how the police are kind of liars and they don’t really stand up for a lot of marginalized people,” he said. 


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