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Minority members of legislature speak at latest Salt Lake protest

Over a thousand demonstrators gathered outside the Salt Lake City-County building Wednesday morning protesting for police reform. (PHOTO: KSL Newsradio's John Wojcik)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The sun still wasn’t over the Wasatch Front yet when dozens of demonstrators started to gather outside the Salt Lake City-County Building for a protest.

Around 5:30 a.m., members of the Utah Chapter of Black Lives Matter were taping “x’s” on the ground to promote social distancing, in anticipation of a big crowd.

By 6:00 a.m., hundreds had already gathered, most with signs and many with their morning coffee. Just over an hour later at 7:15 a.m., at its peak, there were over a thousand people stretching from the front of the building all the way back to State Street.

Peaceful Salt Lake protest

According to organizers on Facebook, the group was protesting for police reform. Many signs reflected that sentiment, with one reading, “Who do you call when you can’t call the police?” Another saying, “1 bad apple spoils the bunch. Convict rotten cops.”

The location of the demonstration is almost the exact spot where protesters and police clashed just over a week ago. However, this gathering seemed almost entirely different, with families bringing their young children and most everyone fixated on the speakers.

A number of individuals associated with the Utah Chapter of Black Lives Matter spoke to the crowd, some saying they came from as far as Logan for the event. Adding to the powerful and emotional tone, a number of female and minority members of the state legislature also shared their thoughts and personal experiences.

Minority members

Rep. Sandra Hollins, D-Salt Lake City, the first African-American woman in the Utah legislature, spoke while drawing a number of historical examples of social and racial inequality.

Taking the mic afterward, Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, referred to Hollins as her “ride or die.”

“Many of us, we wake up every day, we look in the mirror, and we see a black or brown person… we live this every day,” Romero told KSL NewsRadio. “So, it’s [great] to see our white allies coming out here to support us.”

Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, continually highlighted how many younger people were at the event, saying it’s a positive sign to see a new generation tackle these problems head-on.

“The time is right,” she said. “History is happening and we should embrace it and move the needle towards more equity and justice.”

Rep. Karen Kwan, D-Murray, said she was encouraged to see the 180-degree transformation of protests compared to a little over a week ago. She said not only are Utahns making their voice heard, but they also are listening to others and their experiences.

“The thing that gets me is how they (the speakers) are speaking the truth,” she said. “And Utah is listening.”

The gathering unofficially ended at 9 a.m., although around a hundred people lingered afterward on the front steps with signs.