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Utah Republican Candidates For Governor Speak On Police Brutality Protests

Utah Debate Commission

The four Republican candidates vying to represent the party in Utah’s Gubernatorial elections participated in a debate Monday evening at the University of Utah. The candidate's shared their responses to the police brutality protests occurring across the nation.

The moderator asked the candidates what they would say to President Trump had they been on Monday morning’s Governors call where the President called the 50 governors’ weak with their reaction to protests throughout the nation. Former Governor John Huntsman responded saying he would shoot straight with the president. 

“I would ask first and foremost are we doing enough to thank law enforcement for putting their lives on the line,” Huntsman said. “Are we doing enough to thank them and their families for the restraint that was shown in the face of anarchy. Then I would tell the president something else, because I served him in Moscow, I'd say on Saturday I saw something I've never seen in this state. I saw, Black Hawk helicopters circling in the sky, downtown. I saw Humvees at the intersections. I heard curfews that were being enforced by the state. I would say Mr. President I'm concerned about civil liberties. This is not what we see in the state of Utah, maybe others, but not here. This is what you see in other countries, we have the ability to manage our own situation thank you very much.” 

Lt. Governor Cox responded by first saying that the death of George Floyd was a murder. 

“There is no place for police brutality in America,” Cox continued. “We know that and we have to stand up strong. At the same time these lawful protests that are taking place have been hijacked by agents of chaos. By people who don't care about the movement at all who aren’t trying to make the world a better place. They only care about destroying lawfulness. They care about destroying property. They care about defacing property, and we must and we did respond with strength to those people. So that we can allow the people space, who are protesting lawfully. So that we can work together, and we will work together. We're working with our multicultural commission. we're working with our Martin Luther King Commission. We have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow to talk about these very issues. But there is absolutely no place for chaos, there is no place for destruction, we must have law and order.” 

Former Speaker of the House Greg Hughes responded saying it was important to distinguish protest vs riots. 

“I join in the protest of what's happened to Mr. Floyd,” Hughes said. “The issue is not the protest, the outrage, the murder that we did truly see before our eyes on that camera. There have been peaceful protest that have happened, there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, it's incumbent upon us to really push back when we see this and there was something amazing happening in this country where we were. It didn't matter what party you were or what philosophy and politics you subscribe to. There was a recoil that happened in this country, that has been robbed from those that care. The rioters, those that look to prey upon the weak, those that try to create fear, civil unrest, breaks the law, that isn't what this is about. That's not the feelings that we all as a nation felt and that is what has to be dealt with head on. I'm with this president. If you're going to go and go find quarantine issues to bring down the law, but you're not going to let these issues be handled and you’re going to let these rioters go, that’s a deal killer.” 

Former GOP Chair Thomas Wright said he was very uncomfortable and devastated by what happened to George Floyd. 

“As governor I want to get involved in the peace officer standards and training, and that's called POST,” Wright explained. “It's the POST council, as governor I will direct the commissioner of public safety in his role, on the POST council to ensure curriculum for all new and future officers. So, they'll be trained, so that they're listening and learning and we're being compassionate with each other, and we can take action on racial inequality. We can even discuss a course for current police officers, I know they want to be a part of the solution and they should have an equal opportunity. Together Utah can come together and lead the nation on this front.” 

The entire debate can be found here. 

Utah’s Primary Election is June 30. 

The Democratic Party will not have a primary debate as Christopher Peterson won the nomination at the state convention.

KPCW reporter David Boyle covers all things in the Heber Valley as well as sports and breaking news.
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