Fewer residents than ever feel secure walking the streets of downtown Salt Lake City while drug deals, drug use, and loitering are occurring right on Main Street in downtown.
This is in large part due to the clearly untreated mentally disturbed, drug-addicted growing homeless population. Indicative of the severity of the problem is the case of Megan Joyce Mohn, 40, who is seen in bodycam footage released last month by SLCPD. Mohn can be heard saying, “Please don’t shoot!” and “Don’t kill me! I don’t want to die!”
Mohn was yelling and wielding an iron bar when officers were called to the scene at 1:30 AM, but her greatest offense after being detained was that she did not want to provide the officers with her name. For this, officers proceeded to kneel on her body and put her in ankle irons. During this altercation, Mohn fell unconscious and experienced cardiac arrest. She was in a coma for nine days before she died. The coroner’s office determined that the asphyxiation lead to her cardiac arrest, which was caused by both methamphetamine and the lack of oxygen.
Robin Pendergrast, a New York Times photojournalist stationed in Salt Lake City, says that Mohn’s death is akin to the death of George Floyd at the hands of officers in Minneapolis in 2019. “This should not have happened, the police need to be held accountable for this.”
The difficulties in managing the current homeless-population problems in downtown Salt Lake City appear to be overwhelming the Salt Lake City Police Department. Salt Lake City is facing a drug epidemic, a mental health crisis, a housing crisis and as a result a burgeoning homeless population that SLC leaders are unequipped to manage.
Salt Lake City is home to the headquarters of one of the largest humanitarian-oriented religions in the world: The LDS Church. The LDS Church has been revealed to have over $100 billion in its private securities and holdings including a private mall that cost over $2 billion.
Yet despite this wealth and the success of Utah’s tech-heavy economy, Salt Lake City is beginning to resemble our larger neighboring western cities more and more each day. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Denver, and Las Vegas suffer from homeless populations that are stifling urban populations and local business owners’ abilities to go about their business and feel safe.
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