A sheriff’s deputy was wrapping up a traffic stop at a Utah gas station last week when he saw a teen take a “back the blue” sign — which urged support for police officers — and stomp on it after her friend was pulled over.
The teen, identified in court documents as 19-year-old Lauren Gibson, then allegedly crumpled it up in a “destructive manner” and threw it in a trash can, Garfield County Sheriff’s Deputy Cree Carter wrote in an affidavit. The officer, who accused Gibson of allegedly “smirking” at him “in an intimidating manner,” arrested her.
Now, in addition to disorderly conduct, Gibson has been charged with “criminal mischief” with a hate-crime enhancement. The latter crime, county prosecutors allege, was committed with “the intent to intimidate or terrorize another person” in violation of Utah’s 2019 hate-crime law, the Washington Post reports.
“Due to the demeanor displayed by Gibson in attempts to intimate law enforcement while destroying a ‘Pro Law Enforcement’ sign the allegations are being treated as a ‘Hate Crime’ enhanced allegation,” Carter wrote in his affidavit.
The misdemeanor carries a maximum one-year sentence.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Gibson said the charges against her came as a shock. She’s not “anti-police,” she said. But she became upset when the deputy, she alleged, displayed an aggressive attitude toward her friend whom he had stopped for speeding. A friend traveling with the group had previously found a “back the blue” sign on the side of the road and kept it, so Gibson went and got it.