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PM News Brief: Racist campus incidents, historic bid for state House and church threats

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The University of Utah is investigating another racist incident on campus. An Instagram post over the weekend said students “walked through residence halls in KKK uniforms and smeared poop on a Black student’s door.” That story and more in this evening's news brief.

Tuesday evening, Dec. 21, 2021

State

21 more Utahns die from COVID- 19 

Another 21 Utahns have died of COVID-19 — 12 women and nine men. The state saw 811 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, but the positivity rate has been falling in recent days and is now just over 8%. According to the Utah Department of Health, over the last 28 days unvaccinated people are nearly four times more likely to test positive for COVID and nearly 16 times more likely to die from the virus. So far, 58% of all Utahns are fully vaccinated. — Caroline Ballard

Southern Utah

Davina Smith — who’s Navajo — running for state Legislature

Democrat Davina Smith has announced she’s running to represent a large portion of Southeastern Utah in the state House. Smith is the first Navajo woman to run for a seat in the Utah State Legislature. The area has been represented by Rep. Phil Lyman, R- Blanding, since 2019. He won his seat pretty handily in the last election but with new voting maps, the district could be more competitive. — Justin Higginbottom, KZMU 

Northern Utah

Nevada man arrested for threats against Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A former doctor has been accused of making a false terrorist threat against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reports that Isaac Hearne was arrested after a Dec.13 telephone call to church headquarters. That caller identified himself as Hearne and threatened to kill everyone in the building. Police said he acknowledged calling the church and blamed it for professional and financial “calamities” in his life. Witnesses told police that Hearne is a former eye doctor from Reno whose medical license was revoked in 2019. He's now free on electronic monitoring pending an upcoming court appearance. — Associated Press

University of Utah investigating another racist incident on campus

An Instagram post over the weekend said students “walked through residence halls in KKK uniforms and smeared poop on a Black student’s door.” The university’s racist and bias incident response team said it is investigating the social media post — which they believe reflects two separate events. In September, a student found a paper towel with brown substance on their door. Then a month later, an RA reported hearing students talk about being in KKK attire and trying to recruit people. The university said in a statement it strongly condemns white supremacy and these types of actions. — Ross Terrell 

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