City council meeting halted by protesters over Road Home closure

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City Council Meeting was halted Tuesday night after protestors continuously shouted and disobeyed requests by council members to conduct an orderly meeting.

“What will you do?” was shouted after someone listed five demands for council members concerning the Road Home Shelter.

The chanting lasted for almost ten minutes with protestors showing off signs while smacking their hands on council tables before taking off to Library Square. This forced the council to take a recess.

“I don't think this makes any sort of difference,” said Council Chair Charlie Luke moments after taking the recess. “We spent three hours talking through this in a very productive way. Shouting down elected officials doesn't really work, it doesn't really get the message across when we're already on the very things they're asking us to do."

Earlier in the afternoon, Salt Lake City Council held a fact-finding session on homelessness, hearing from numerous stakeholders on the issue.

The Road Home Shelter in downtown Salt Lake City is set to close at the end of November. The group of protesters that wanted the shelter to remain had a “List of Demands” that they described as “a very small and feasible start.”

1. Shelter open through April
2. Equivalent number of beds made readily available and accessible prior to closing date
3. No arrests, tickets or harassment for campers until equivalent number of beds are made readily available.
4. Change legislation for new centers to have more beds.
5. Free fare for all who stay in shelters

After resuming the council session from recess tonight, Luke read and released a statement:

“The City Council has been open to communication and hard conversations regarding homelessness and issues surrounding the closure of the Road Home, including a four-hour work session meeting held today, held with various members of the State, County, City Administration, and community organizations dedicated to helping people experiencing homelessness. But it is hard to continue a conversation when there is no respect, yelling and disregard of the many efforts of all involved, including the Council, to help our less fortunate neighbors. We plea with you to have an orderly meeting to continue with the items that are part of the solutions to help our homeless neighbors. The demands that are being requested are all things we agree with, but that we have little control over, at least by ourselves. We can certainly work with and ask UTA to collaborate with the resource centers to provide free fare. We have talked about looking into our criminal code. We are looking into all options to address this. Thank you.”

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