Monday night’s Republican gubernatorial debate took place at the same time as the second round of protests that took place in Salt Lake City demanding justice for George Floyd of Minnesota.
Over the past few days, riots have been taking place in downtown Salt Lake City. As part of the governor debate, candidates discussed what they would do in this situation.
Thomas Wright, the former Utah GOP Chairman, said as governor he would get involved with Peace Officer Standards and Training, POST, and direct the Commissioner of Public Safety on new and future officer curriculums.
“They’ll be trained so that they're listening and learning and we're being compassionate with each other," explained Wright. "And we can take action on racial inequality. And we can even discuss the course for current police officers. I know they want to be a part of the solution, and they should have an equal opportunity”.
Lt. Governor Spencer Cox said that responding with strength to riots is important to allow peaceful protests.
“We can allow the people space who are protesting lawfully so that we can work together, and we will work together. We're working with our multi multicultural commission. We're working with our Martin Luther King commission. We're actually we have a meeting scheduled for tomorrow to talk about these very issues. But there is absolutely no place for chaos," said Cox. "There is no place for destruction.”
Former Speaker of the House Greg Hughes said there is nothing wrong with peaceful protests, but when they get violent, something needs to be done.
“If you're going to go and go find quarantine issues that bring down the law, but you're not going to let these issues be handled," said Hughes. "And you're going to let these writers go. That's a deal killer and we cannot let that happen to our country or our state”
The final candidate to address the question, former Governor Jon Huntsman, believes that this the state can manage the protest situation on their own without the help of the federal government.
“On Saturday, I saw something I've never seen in this state," explained Huntsman. "I saw Blackhawk helicopters circling in the sky downtown. I saw Humvees at the intersections. I heard curfews that were being enforced by the state. I would say, I'm concerned about civil liberties. This is not what we see in the state of Utah, maybe others, but not here.”
The primary election for governor will take place June 30, 2020.