The Salt Lake Tribune is reporting the Salt Lake City Police Report on the expulsion of two men for unwanted kissing and hugging on Church property has been released (I’m assuming by the SLCPD–but the article is unclear). The Tribune did post the entire report. You can read the actual report here, which is linked at the bottom of the article. So, what does the report say? According to the Tribune:
Church security guards cited kissing and hugging as the “unwanted” behavior two gay men displayed before they were detained and ticketed for trespassing on a plaza near the LDS Temple, according to the police report. Spokesmen for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Salt Lake City police department have thus far declined to specify the behavior that prompted guards to ask Matt Aune, 28, and his partner, Derek Jones, 25, to leave the plaza at 50 E. North Temple.
So, the unwanted behavior was two men kissing and hugging on Temple Square. I see absolutely nothing wrong in citing these two men for engaging in this behavior. Two men kissing within the shadow of the LDS Temple in Salt Lake City (or any other LDS Temple anywhere) is not the same as a man-woman couple hugging and kissing. It’s innappropriate for the venue. I would be offended if I saw it. I believe Church security was well within its rights to ask the two men to leave.
According to one of the men, he was physically mistreated by Church security:
Aune said that the guards “slammed him to the ground” while detaining him; a guard disputed that claim, according to the police report.
It is inconceivable that the Church security guards physically slammed anyone to the ground, particularly for the conduct described. I’ve been to Temple Square, as have millions of others, countless times. I have never been treated by anyone employed by the Church on the Square with other than the utmost courtesy. I have never, ever seen anyone employed by the Church on Temple Square treat anyone else other than with the utmost courtesy. And, if it were true, where did Mr. Anne treat immediately upon leaving Temple Square for the physical injuries which would naturally been a consequence of having been slammed to the ground? I don’t believe it. In my view, Mr. Anne is lying.
Aune and Jones said they have seen heterosexual couples holding hands and kissing without incident on the plaza. Church spokeswoman Kim Farah has said the Aune and Jones were not singled out for being gay and that they were “politely asked to stop engaging in inappropriate behavior.”
So? As I have said before: There is a big difference between hetrosexual couples holding hands and kissing on Temple Square and the Plaza, and two men holding hands, hugging and kissing at the same location. Are Anne and Jones suggesting that as a gay couple they have some legal rights superior and paramount to the Church’s rights to prohibit this conduct? Why point out what hetrosexual couples do, if they did not think they were above the rules and regulations the Church has set out for conduct on Temple Square and the Plaza.
Kim Farah’s disclosure that the two men were not singled out and were politely asked to leave is most likely exaclty what happened. Politely approaching and asking people to refrain from certain conduct is much more in line with what I have seen on Temple Square by Church employees.
However, the police report does not indicate the men were given the option to stay if they stopped kissing or hugging. It states only that the guard told the men that “they need to leave [church] property for the behavior and that [it] is unwanted,” and that the men were detained when Jones said he would not leave.
Why should these two men be given any option to stay? It is clear from their response and the earlier reports they had absolutely no intention of cooperating and leaving quitely. Rather, they became confrontational and verbally abusive and profane to Church security. It was Jones who provoked the confrontation–NOT Church security officers.
The Tribune concluded with:
The men’s detention reignited controversies over the church’s efforts against gay marriage and the city’s sale of the plaza to the church 10 years ago. The city had kept a public easement on the pedestrian thoroughfare but later gave it up, allowing the church to control activities on the plaza. Sunbathing and protesting now are banned. Scores of demonstrators staged a “kiss in” to support Aune and Jones on Sunday morning near the plaza.
I hope the actual report surfaces for all to see exactly what it says without any media filters or spin. [Note, the report is now posted online at the Tribune] Everyone can then read it and come to their own conclusions from the actual report. Even based on the Tribune’s account of the report, I think Church security has been exonorated. It’s abundantly clear the two men who engaged in the unwanted conduct provoked the confrontation, and did so in an effort to generate negative publicity about the Church. Jones and Anne were wrong. Church security should have asked them to leave. They did so in an appropriate manner. The entire matter escalated as a direct result of the obnoxious behavior of Anne and Jones.
UPDATE 10:13 p.m.
The actual report is now linked on the Tribune website. The all important narrative is reproduced below:
Call came in on trespassers at the above address. I arrived and saw both AP’s in custody for trespassing. Nickel said that he observed Matt and Derek kissing and hugging on their property. Nickel told both AP’s that he is with Church Security and that they need to leave their property for the behavior and that is is unwanted. That is when Derek refused to leave and said “NO, I am not leaving”.
Other Church Security came and detained both AP’s for trespassing and then called PD. When I made contact with Matt I asked for his name and he would not give me his name. I then told him that by law he needs to give me his name and DOB. He then game me his name. He told me that the Security Guards slammed him to the ground. I asked him why they did that? He told that him and his boyfriend Derek had been drinking at the Gallavin Center and they just came through Main St. He said they sat down and he gave Derek a kiss. That is when he was contacted by two guys in suits.
He said that he did not know they were Church Security and that he said nobody has the right to tell them to leave on public grounds. He said once he found out that they were Church Security, he told them “NO” that he was not going to leave and to call the Police.
I asked Nickel if they slammed him to the ground ? Nickel said they did not slam him to the ground when they put handcuffs on him. I told Matt and Derek that it is private property and that he will be issued a citation because he was asked to leave and he told them “No”. Matt and Derek were both issued citations for trespassing.
I did not see any signs of injury on either AP’s. I could smell alcohol on Matt’s breath and he speech was slightly slurred when he spoke to me.
Very interesting factual details emerge from the actual report:
1. SLCPD arrived on scene after being called by Church security;
2. Church security officer did observe the two men hugging and kissing on Church property;
3. One of the men, Derek, when informed he was on private property and asked to leave, refused saying No;
4. An additional Church security officer arrived to assist the first officer;
5. When asked by SLCPD his name, Matt initially refused to provide his name to an actual law enforcement officer;
6. Matt told the SLCPD officer he and his “boyfriend” had been drinking at the Gallavin Center;
7. They sat down on the Plaza, now LDS Church property, and gave Derek a kiss;
8. At this point Church security arrives and asks both men to leave;
9. Once identified as Church security, Matt told them that he would not leave as he had been asked;
10. Church security denied having slammed the men to the ground while handcuffing them;
11. Both men were issued tresspassing citations by SLCPD;
12. SLCPD observed no injuries to either man, despite their claim of having been slammed to the ground;
13. SLCPD officer could smell alcohol on Matt’s breath and detected some sluring of speech.
So, there you have it. Facts contained in the police report completely exonerating Church security and contradicting the intial media reports and claims that the men were slammed to the ground and were simply walking innocently through the Plaza. We also find out that at least one of the men had been drinking and showed objective signs of possible intoxication. There you have it.