SALT LAKE CITY – A rainstorm could not stop a group of 40 protesters from gathering in downtown Salt Lake City to kneel or to lay down on the soggy ground at Washington Square.
The group wanted to call attention to George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, two African-Americans who were controversially killed by police officers in Minnesota and Kentucky, respectively.
Meletuplu Vaca, who goes to BYU-Idaho and has participated in protests in Rexburg, says Monday’s demonstration was a chance to educate people about what she sees as the problem of police brutality. She also thinks the issue is bigger than race.
“When I look at the Black Lives Matter movement, I see this movement as for people who can’t speak up for themselves because they’re too scared. I see the Latinos, I see Polynesian people, black people, even oppressed communities like the LGBTQ+ community. They’ve been oppressed just because they want to be different from the system, and I don’t understand that,” Vaca said.
Katie Acheson, whose son organized the protest, believes police are doing the work of social workers with disastrous results. She would like to move to a more community-based policing model where the public solves more of the problems.
“What the police have become are social workers with guns…A lot of the crimes that the police are policing are the things the community could be taking care of. We could be taking care of the homeless. We could be helping the battered wives…Leave the police to the things that are actually violent like the dude that goes to a school and shoots a bunch of little kids, I want a cop there. But I don’t need a cop coming up the street because I was out after [curfew],” Acheson said.
The protesters eventually marched to the Utah State Capitol, joining another group of protesters.
The two groups peacefully marched down State Street, blocking intersections for short periods of time by kneeling.
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