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AM News Brief: Romney Marches, County Mayor Vows Reform & Rare 'Derecho' Storm Scours Region

A winding river cuts through red rock canyons
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance courtesy photo
One of the rarest weather events occurred over the weekend in southern Utah — a derecho. This story and more in the Monday morning news brief.";

Monday morning, June 8, 2020

Northern Utah

“Justice For Bernardo”

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Saturday to hold a vigil for Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal — a 22-year-old man who died in an officer-involved shooting in Salt Lake City over Memorial Day weekend. Speakers at Saturday’s event called for the police department to be reformed and for elected officials to take police brutality seriously. It was the eighth consecutive day of protests against police brutality in the state’s capital. Read the full story. — David Fuchs

County Mayor To Expand Diversity Council

In response to the recent protests against racial injustice in Salt Lake City, county Mayor Jenny Wilson pledged to refocus and expand her Council on Diversity Affairs. Wilson recently announced the council will have members to address criminal justice reform, housing, economic opportunities and healthcare access in diverse communities. She said she wants to focus on measurable progress like policy change. Wilson said the next phase of her plan is community engagement, which will include round table discussions and listening sessions. — Jessica Lowell

U Football Staffer Suspended

The University of Utah has suspended its football program’s defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley for sending a text message containing a racial slur in 2013. In a press release issued on Friday, the university said the language is especially hurtful to the African-American community and that it will be using an outside firm to determine whether the instance was isolated or part of a larger pattern of misconduct. The university’s athletics director Mark Harlan and head football coach Kyle Whittingham condemned the use of racist language and supported the suspension. Scalley has called his text a “terrible mistake,” and said he immediately apologized after sending it. He also pledged to do better. — David Fuchs

Southern Utah

Small Town Moab Protest For Change

Around 400 people took to the rainy streets in Moab to protest inequality and police brutality on Friday. Protesters marched through downtown Moab before shutting down Main Street for an hour Friday night. Activists said they were encouraged by the turnout in the town of around 5,300, where just 1% of the population is black and 4% is Native American. Earlier in the week, the mayor and Moab police chief issued a proclamation promising to review the department’s policies and create a forum for residents to suggest changes. Read the full story. — Kate Groetzinger, Bluff

Rare Storm Begins In Southeastern Utah

One of the rarest weather events occurred over the weekend in Utah — a derecho. The National Weather Service said the derecho — a widespread, long-lived wind storm blowing in a straight line with gusts from 58 mph to 75 mph — has been documented just twice in the western United States. The said the derecho started in southeast Utah Saturday morning with severe wind reported eastward to southwest North Dakota. Over some 12 hours, winds averaged 60 miles an hour. The strongest gust reportedly blew at 110 miles an hour in Grand County, Colorado. — Diane Maggipinto

State

Utah’s COVID-19 Cases

Utah saw another big jump in new COVID-19 cases over the weekend. The state department of health reported 547 cases on Saturday and 266 on Sunday. They also reported one death — a man over the age of 85 living in a Weber county long-term care facility. Bear River Health District, which includes Cache County, now has the third largest number of total cases in the state. The increase there is related to an outbreak at a meat processing facility. Most of the state is in the “yellow” or low-risk phase of the pandemic response. Salt Lake City, Bluff and Mexican Hat are still in the “orange” or moderate-risk phase. — Elaine Clark

Follow KUER’s coverage of the coronavirus in Utah.

Region/Nation

Romney Marches

Utah’s U.S. Senator Mitt Romney marched Sunday in a protest against police mistreatment of minorities in the nation's capital. That makes him the first Republican senator to do so. He posted a tweet showing him wearing a mask as he walked with protesters in Washington. Above the photo he wrote: “Black Lives Matter.” Romney has been one of the more independent members of the U.S. Senate's GOP caucus. He voted to remove President Donald Trump from office after the impeachment trial. In a tweet Monday morning, Trump said it’s no wonder Romney’s “numbers would ‘tank’ so badly in Utah.” A June 3 UtahPolicy.com poll found Romney’s approval rating had climbed to 56% among Utah voters. — Associated Press & Elaine Clark

COVID Claims 277 Lives On Navajo Nation

The Navajo Department of Health logged another 212 cases of COVID-19 and eight deaths over the weekend. That brings the mortality count to 277 and total positives of the novel coronavirus to 6,020. Navajo Nation Pres. Jonathan Nez said Phoenix is reporting its health care system is nearing capacity for hospitalizations. — Diane Maggipinto

All Bets Still Off At Navajo Casinos

The Navajo Nation's gambling operation had hoped to reopen its casinos in mid-June, but they'll stay closed until at least early July because of the coronavirus outbreak. Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise officials said the closures will continue after tribal Pres. Nez extended an order that keeps tribal government operations locked through July 5 to help curb spread of the outbreak. — Associated Press

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