Press Release: Better Utah statement on community activist arrests


Salt Lake City, UT – Last night, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that protesters Madalena McNeil and Martin Oliveros were arrested and charged with first degree felonies with a gang enhancement for their involvement in protests against the Salt Lake County DA’s office. The charges could be punishable by a life sentence. McNeil has been a prominent organizer through Salt Lake Valley Covid Mutual Aid, making sure that protesters have food, water, and masks. 

Chase Thomas, executive director for Alliance for a Better Utah, issued the following statement:

“In bringing exorbitant charges for low-level offenses against activists and organizers, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office, whether intentional or not, is sending a message to the public about the way it sees protests against police brutality. By choosing to bring disproportionate felony charges, District Attorney Sim Gill is reinforcing the narrative of an unjust, punitive criminal justice system that people have been protesting in the first place.

“If Gill is serious about respecting the Black Lives Matter movement and ending police brutality, he has a responsibility to reflect that by carefully deciding how to respond to civil disobedience. These overly aggressive charges will only continue to erode the trust the public has in our law enforcement and criminal justice systems when Gill should be doing everything he can to restore that trust.”


Alliance for a Better Utah is a nonprofit that holds politicians accountable and advocates for progressive policies that make Utah an even better place. The organization improves the lives of all Utahns through advocacy, transparency, and accountability in Utah politics, policy, and government. More information at

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4 thoughts on “Press Release: Better Utah statement on community activist arrests”

  1. “overly aggressive charges”? Surely you jest! Because of the charges, we now have MORE trust in Utah’s justice system and the police. You are wrong on this. And I hope they make these criminals pay for the damages.

  2. McNeil doesn’t believe in innocent until proven guilty, which is a right in the US Constitution. However, life? That’s a bit much, but if she believes in justice than justice for all. Brutality comes in different shapes and forms. I hope Karma takes pity on McNeil.

  3. A “better Utah” would be for these protesters to channel their energies into something that builds and inspires, such as the arts – create a piece of beautiful or shocking art – rather than destroying property and ruining things in their path. Is that really “better for Utah”? Why can’t protesters and their supporters realize that suburban neighborhoods are off limits to this ridiculous violence and mayhem. In case it is not clear to you, Utahans living in peaceful suburbs will absolutely and forcefully (if necessary) resist protesters invading their quiet neighborhoods. Utahans are reasonable people by and large, and most of us tolerant of protests so long as they don’t increase the level of chaos and violence in these already strained times. But these protests appear to have a small percentage of anarchists and troublemakers who slip in, blend in, and the moment they get a chance, assault someone or something that they perceive to be evil, racist, fascist or whichever extreme label that suits their needs. Utah citizens have every right to defend their neighborhoods from such bad actors to signal clearly that violence and mayhem will NOT BE TOLERATED in this peace-loving state. Portland and Seattle, the hip places that they are, may have some appetite for it, but Utah is not the Northwest. Transplanted or homegrown antifa-wannabes will discover that average Utahans will unlock their safes, pull out their ARs and show up in droves to protect their peaceful neighborhoods if the peace is ever threatened. Protest groups have to factor that in to their calculations about where to hold their protests.

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