JEREMY RANCH -- Eight African-American door-to-door salespeople are claiming racial discrimination after they were arrested for soliciting without a license in the Summit County community of Jeremy Ranch.
The eight told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City that they were booked, while a white co-worker was not arrested.
Their white colleague, 20-year-old Kristin Riege, backs up their account. She said she had just finished a sale when an officer in an unmarked police truck pulled up to her and flashed a badge.
"He said, 'Be careful out there. We have just arrested all of your co-workers,"' Riege said. "He never told me to stop working."
Sheriff Dave Edmunds said he has no knowledge of that happening. He dismissed the notion that the arrests were racially motivated, calling it "an outrageous claim."
"My deputies say they never contacted her, so that's news to me," he said, adding that his deputies looked for a ninth person for nearly three hours but didn't find her.
The sheriff's office has a zero-tolerance stance for those who work without a county-issued business license because residents have had problems with pushy salespeople, the sheriff added.
"We have begun to book these people every time," Edmunds said. "It doesn't matter who they are. Race, color, creed, whatever. We book them all."
The eight black salespeople admit they did not have licenses, but say they did not know they were required. They work for Advantage Diversified Products, an Illinois-based company that sells organic cleaning products.
"I felt like it was kind of biased for us to be arrested and her (Riege) not to be for doing the same thing," said Detroit native Ryan Jackson, a 44-year-old company salesman.
Earl Tanner, a Salt Lake attorney representing the salespeople, is urging the county to drop the charges and give them $5,000 for their time and expenses.