South Salt Lake City Council member Paul Sanchez arrested on suspicion of trespassing

A censured Paul Sanchez’s attempt to attend a trio of council meetings Wednesday ended with him facing a trespassing charge.

(South Salt Lake) South Salt Lake City Council member Paul Sanchez.

Censured South Salt Lake City Council member Paul Sanchez showed up for a trio of council meetings Wednesday.

Police instead showed him the door.

Officers arrested Sanchez on suspicion of trespassing for trying to enter City Hall after his fellow council members had ordered him to join meetings virtually for at least the next three months.

Last week, Sanchez’s colleagues censured him over three social media posts in which he allegedly released personal details of a fellow council member and told another to “f – – – off.”

Under the rebuke, Sanchez isn’t allowed to place items on meeting agendas, is suspended from city-related travel, won’t be able to conduct meetings, cannot serve on committees or in a leadership role, and could only participate in meetings remotely for at least 90 days.

According to police records, officers met Sanchez at the door of City Hall before a 6 p.m. Redevelopment Agency meeting and advised him that he was trespassing. After receiving a written notice of trespassing, he told officers that they would have to arrest him because he wasn’t going to leave.

Police then arrested the embattled council member at 5:22 p.m. and booked him into the Salt Lake County Jail at 8:28 p.m., according to jail and court documents.

South Salt Lake Justice Court Judge Ryan J. Richards later ordered Sanchez released under the condition that he refrain from committing criminal acts and promise to appear for future court hearings.

Court records indicate Sanchez had not been formally charged as of Thursday afternoon.

In a text message and an email, Sanchez said South Salt Lake police “violently arrested” him and unlawfully searched and seized his belongings, which included his iPad and notes. Police records indicate he was taken into custody without incident.

“The First Amendment, which guarantees the freedom of speech and assembly, was trampled upon,” Sanchez wrote, “as I was targeted for my participation in a public meeting, a fundamental exercise of my democratic rights as an elected official.”

In a Thursday email, a South Salt Lake representative provided a timeline of events leading up to and following Sanchez’s censure. The council voted to discipline the first-term officeholder a week after adopting a code of conduct for council members, according to the statement.

Sanchez was arrested after he refused to leave City Hall, said he intended to enter the building and blocked an entrance, the statement said. The city said it had no information to support Sanchez’s accusation that he was violently arrested.

“While it is unfortunate that the city has been forced to take these actions,” the statement said, “we are obligated to conduct city business in a safe environment and protect the City Council members and staff — as well as the residents and community members who attend the City Council meetings.”

Without Sanchez in attendance Wednesday, the council heard presentations on affordable housing and licensing.

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