As a result of a man dying overnight at Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Park, Police Chief Chris Burbank on Friday ordered Occupy Salt Lake protesters to vacate their camps at both the west-side park and downtown’s Gallivan Center.
The protesters have until Saturday at sundown to pack up and leave.
Burbank said he would try to work with the group to find other avenues to express their opposition to Wall Street policies and corporate greed, but in the wake of the death early Friday morning he could no longer allow camping out in subfreezing weather on public sites.
Burbank said it appears the victim died sometime around 2 a.m., likely from a combination of carbon monoxide poisoning and a drug overdose. Along with a propane heater, police had reportedly been seen retrieving what appeared to be drug paraphernalia from the victim’s tent as they gathered evidence at the scene late Friday morning.
Burbank, flanked by representatives of several social service agencies and homeless advocates, arrived just after noon and asked campers and reporters to gather round. He said the existence of the protest camps had become a public safety issue. He wondered if the dead man would still be alive, had he not been camping.
Exposure, drug overdose, suicide and murder. The body count keeps rising and the evidence continues to mount that these are not a bunch of noble patriots trying to survive the winter at Valley Forge.