Woman Facing Year in Jail for Smirking, Stomping 'Back the Blue' Sign

A Utah woman faces a year behind bars after allegedly damaging a "Back the Blue" sign at a gas station, according to a report.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the unnamed 19-year-old woman was charged with a hate crime after she reportedly was found "stomping" on a "Back the Blue" sign at a Panguitch gas station.

In an affidavit of probable cause, seen by the publication, an officer said he saw the woman destroying the sign while carrying out a traffic stop for speeding at the same gas station.

The Garfield County police officer added in the affidavit that he saw the woman "crumble it (the sign) in a destructive manner and throw it into a trash can all while smirking in an intimidating manner towards me."

The report stated the officer asked the woman where she got the sign. The woman then claimed it was her mother's.

According to The Salt Lake Tribune, the officer informed the woman that the sheriff's office had made those particular signs and believed "she had acquired it in our community."

The officer then claimed the woman gave "inconsistent stories" about where she found the sign after she later claimed she had found it on the ground.

In the affidavit, the officer wrote: "Due to [the woman] destroying property that did not belong to her in a manner to attempt to intimidate law enforcement, I placed her under arrest."

It added the allegations against the woman had been treated as a "hate crime enhanced allegation" because of the "demeanor displayed by [the woman] in attempts to intimidate law enforcement while destroying a 'pro-law enforcement sign.'"

Utah law states that "intimidate or terrorize" means an act that causes the person to fear for his physical safety or damages the property of that person or another.

The law, under the section for "Penalty for hate crimes - Civil rights violations", continued: "The act must be accompanied with the intent to cause or has the effect of causing a person to reasonably fear to freely exercise or enjoy any right secured by the Constitution or laws of the state y the Constitution or laws of the United States."

According to the publication, the woman faces a year in prison or a $2,500 fine. It was not clear when the alleged crime took place.

Newsweek has contacted the Garfield County Sheriff's Office for comment.

"Blue Lives Matter" and "Back the Blue" have become lightning rod statements in the ongoing culture wars that have gripped America in recent years.

Earlier this year, a viral TikTok video showed a white student yelling at a white teacher for having a Blue Lives Matter flag on display in his classroom.

In April, bystanders accused officers of saying "blue lives matter" shortly after a police officer shot 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant dead.

During the height of the "Black Lives Matter" movement, "Blue Lives Matter" rallies were held across the country, which led to both peaceful counterprotests and clashes.

Blue Lives Matter rally
The woman reportedly faces a year behind bars or a $2,500 fine. Here, protesters are seen waving a "Blue Lives Matter" flag in support of police at a rally hosted by Long Island and New York City police unions on October 4, 2020 in Suffolk County, New York. Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis/Getty Images