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Woman who crumpled pro-police sign is charged with hate crime

The woman is accused of stomping on the poster in front of a deputy who had pulled her over for speeding

back the blue sign

AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma

By Suzie Ziegler

PANGUITCH, Utah — A 19-year-old is facing a hate crime charge after authorities said she defaced a “Back the Blue” sign.

Lauren Gibson is accused of stomping on a pro-police poster and throwing it away, according to the New York Daily News. The incident was witnessed on July 7 by a deputy, who had just pulled Gibson and her friend over for speeding.

“I observed one of the friends, later identified to be Lauren Gibson, stomping on a ‘Back the Blue’ sign next to where the traffic stop was conducted, crumble it up in a destructive manner and throw it into a trash can all while smirking in an intimidating manner toward me,” the deputy said.

Gibson was charged with criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, which were enhanced by a hate crime charge, according to the report. A Utah state statute establishes “status as a law enforcement officer” as a designation protected by hate crime laws.

A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union, obtained by the Daily News, encouraged prosecutors not to pursue the hate crime charge.

“We consistently warn that enhancements are oftentimes used to single out unpopular groups or messages rather than provide protections for marginalized communities,” the group said.