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A different protest scene: Peaceful demonstrators open with prayer, release list of demands

Dozens of protesters gathered in Washington Square Saturday evening for a peaceful demonstration, continuing the thread of peaceful protests seen in Utah and across the country over the last week. (Photo: Matt Gephardt, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Dozens of protesters gathered in Washington Square Saturday evening for a demonstration, continuing the thread of peaceful protests seen in Utah and across the country over the last week. Organizers called it, “Coming Together for a Positive and Sustainable Change.”

The protest opened with local Rev. France Davis, who began the demonstration with a prayer — calling the crowd together in peace. 

 

Rev. Davis previously marched in the 1950s and 1960s during Martin Luther King Jr.’s demonstrations, joining The Great March on Washington. Davis stood closely by when Dr. King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Davis said he knew Dr. King and his family, spending quite a bit of time with them. He told the crowd he was encouraged to “see his legacy carry on.”

Crowds gathered to protest the death of George Floyd in police custody, arguing there are larger systemic issues that need to be addressed. 

“This is nothing new to us,” Rev. Davis said. “This activity that has called everybody to excitement is what we have lived with for many years. In fact, all of our lives.”

Rev. Davis pushed the crowd to continue fighting for justice. However, the protest organizers called on Utahns to continue protesting in nonviolent ways, so the focused issues don’t get overlooked. 

“Lets do it,” he said. “And lets do it peacefully. ”

Among the crowds, Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall was present — as speakers thanked her for her work fighting for civil rights. 

She closed out the protest, saying she will continue to support and stand with the movement. Mendenhall said these protests are about more than just individual events — it’s about the country that was built on “a flawed and a racist foundation.”

High school and college students from across Utah gave speeches throughout the demonstration, sharing instances of racism that they experience every day. However, they say these go largely unnoticed. 

 

Protest speakers came with a list of demands for the city, including calling on police to reopen the investigations of all instances of people being killed by officers to bring justice to those lost. Demonstrators also demanded the release of all peaceful protesters that have been taken into custody with all charges dropped.

The demonstrators also demand consequences for those who used “excessive forces on unarmed minorities.”

Protest organizers addressed pushback on, “Why are we as society still talking about this?” They said their history has only become a story, with society failing to recognize the effects that still linger. 

Overall, speakers call on their fellow Black community to keep fighting — not letting go of this history that is “part of your identity.”

“Be proud of who you are and everything you stand for,” an event speaker said.