This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
Uintah County officials on Tuesday confirmed the arrests of four environmental activists who had staged a protest of construction work at a tar sands mine in the Book Cliffs.
Jay Brooks, Amber Hayward, Tazeus Steyskal and Sean Summers were all arrested about 7 a.m. Monday and booked into the Uintah County jail on suspicion of trespassing on trust lands, a class A misdemeanor.
No formal charges had been filed as of Tuesday. If convicted of the charge, each of the activists could spend up to a year in jail.
All four posted $1,950 cash bond and had been released from jail as of Tuesday morning, a jail spokesman said.
In a press statement posted on Facebook, the sheriff's office said deputies were called to the mine area about 7 a.m. Monday after roughly 30 protesters tried to block site-clearing work being conduced by a Canadian energy company, U.S. Oil Sands, which has leased the land from the state School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration.
PR Spring is where the East Tavaputs Plateau straddles the Grand and Uintah county lines.
The property is marked "no trespassing," but the group ignored the warnings and had blocked access to the site, the sheriff's office said.
Some protesters suspended themselves from metal tripods to block construction crews and had to be removed from the area with the help of heavy equipment a cherry picker which plucked them from their perches. Another person was arrested after chaining himself to the heavy equipment, police said. A fourth person who repeatedly refused to obey the commands of officers was also arrested, the new release states.
Sheriff's office spokesman Troy Slaugh said the agency respects the rights of people to peaceably assemble, but is also charged with protecting the rights of individuals and entities trying to maintain and manage their property.
"Peaceful protests respect the rights of others with as much reverence as their own," Slaugh said. "Unfortunately in this case, some chose to express their beliefs in a way that interfered with the rights of someone else, essentially forcing our hand."