An activist petitioning to make English Utah's official language had another run-in with authorities Friday - this time, he was arrested and booked into jail.
John Slevin, 41, was circulating the petition in the main parking lot of the Utah State Fair when he was asked to leave. Police officers handcuffed and arrested him when he refused.He was booked into jail for investigation of trespassing. Slevin spent four hours behind bars until officers released him about 6 p.m.
Slevin was exercising his constitutional right to petition government, he said. The Utah and U.S. constitutions guarantee him the right to petition at public places.
But fair officials say the fairgrounds are "private property" leased by the nonprofit organization that operates the annual fair, the police report said.
Attorney Brian M. Barnard said Friday that he intends to file a federal lawsuit against fair officials on Monday on behalf of Slevin.
"The arrest of Mr. Slevin was clearly unconstitutional," Barnard said. "(The fair) has no rules or regulations against petitioning. It's government property that's open to the public."
Selvin ran into similar trouble last month at the Salt Lake County Fair. There, he and his partner, John Guido, were asked to leave and cited for trespassing by Murray police. A court hearing has not been held.
Despite the trouble with the law, the two say they plan to keep circulating the petition - even if it means jail. They plan to return to the fair Saturday to continue the petition drive, Guido said.