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Race, Religion & Social Justice

Salt Lake City Protester Sentenced To Two Years In Federal Prison After Awaiting Trial In Jail For More Than A Year

A photo of a sticker of Jaxon, which reads 'Free Jaxon.'
Emily Means
/
KUER
Jackson Patton was arrested after a protest against police brutality following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Tom Patton, his father, said this experience for his family has made him more aware of racial inequality in the justice system.

Jackson Patton, 28, was booked into the Weber County Jail in June 2020, after he was arrested for his role in burning a police car during the May 30, 2020 protest in Salt Lake City.

Susan Tamowski, his mother, saw him in person at the federal courthouse this week for the first time in over a year. She said she was surprised by how long his beard was and all she wanted to do was be close to him.

“I was happy to see him, but I was still not able to hug him,” Tamowski said. “I thought he looked good and healthy.”

Patton pleaded guilty earlier this year to civil disorder for his role in burning a Salt Lake City Police car. This week, he was sentenced to 24 months in federal prison, as well as 36 months of supervised release after his prison sentence and $2,500 in restitution.

That’s after spending more than a year locked up in Weber County, which will count as time served.

Tamowski and her family said they hoped since Patton spent 14 months in jail before his trial, that would be enough.

“It's been enlightening for me to realize that the judicial system works this way,” she said. “Obviously, Jackson was not given his right to speedy trial. He was not innocent until proven guilty. So for me, this is a learning experience.”

At least three of Patton's co-defendants weren’t incarcerated pre-trial, according to the Office of the U.S. Attorney for Utah.

Eliza McKinney is with the prison abolition group Decarcerate Utah. The organization hosted a rally in support of Patton and his family.

She said she views how the case has played out as a message to protestors.

“I think that it's definitely to threaten the political community and to try to use him as an example of how bad things can get for you if you get involved,” McKinney said.

In a press release, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Patton admitted to “moving a burning cloth into the interior of the overturned patrol car,” which accelerated the fire.

Patton’s family said they’re relieved to have an end date in sight, now that he’s been sentenced. In the meantime, Tamowski is looking forward to the day she can hug her son again.

“When he comes home, it’ll feel more like closure,” she said.

As for Patton’s co-defendants, Lateesha Richards has been sentenced to 20 months in federal prison. Latroi Devon Newbins and Larry Raynold Williams Jr. are waiting to be sentenced after pleading guilty. Christopher Isidro Rojas will likely go to trial later this year.

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