UTAH STATE CAPITOL – Multiple groups come to the Capitol complex as protests against the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis continue across the country.
Most of the Utah State Capitol grounds were sealed off with yellow caution tape and surrounded by UHP troopers to ensure no one damages the buildings or monuments. However, across the street, hundreds of people held signs protesting police tactics and showing support of the movement Black Lives Matter.
At first, three different groups had planned to hold separate protests, back to back. However, some organizers decided to merge their events into one. It started small, with only a few dozen sitting on the lawn of the Utah Office of Tourism.
However, by 6 p.m., the crowd grew large enough to block traffic around the Capitol.
One organizer, Ammon Roberts with the Salt Lake Equal Rights Movement, says even though protests have been going on for several days, he has plenty of energy.
“I know black people, we’re not tired of the protests because black people are fed up with being killed by the police,” he says.
Roberts calls any loss of life at the hands of the police is a tragedy, and he believes George Floyd’s death was completely preventable. However, he also believes the violent actions of protestors on Saturday did nothing to honor Floyd’s memory.
“I want to stress, our movement is not about hating the police. It’s about not being able to tolerate treatment that the black community and African-American communities all over this country receive from the police,” says Roberts.
He says he fully supports a petition effort from the local chapter of Black Lives Matter, calling on Representative Nancy Pelosi to sponsor a national police reform bill.
Another protest organizer, John Sullivan with Insurgence TV, also decries the damage done by protestors on Saturday. However, he also believes the man accused of bringing a bow and arrow to Washington Square in Salt Lake City didn’t help anything, either.
“I think acting with more violence only shames your cause, in that sense. You’re saying it’s OK to hurt other people and kill other people because someone else got killed. Shouldn’t it be the opposite?” Sullivan asks.
Sullivan says growing up with white parents helped him understand what it’s like to be on both sides of this issue. He believes it’s not just important for racism to be erased from police departments, but all forms of racial discrimination need to be thing of the past.
“If everybody comes together and voices their opinion in unison with people who can actually make change happen and pass a bill, I think that’s powerful,” he says.
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