SALT LAKE CITY – Another huge protest in downtown Salt Lake City demanding police reform. Protestors marched around downtown Salt Lake City to voice their views and celebrate Juneteenth, but organizers say the rally has to be about more than just chanting.
Several hundred people with signs and T-shirts supporting Black Lives Matter marched from Washington Square to State Street to South Temple… eventually making a stop at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building. Traffic was blocked on 500 South while the protestors gave speeches and read the names of people who have been killed by police all over the country.
Organizer Tre Barnes with Solidarity For Justice acknowledges there have been very many protests across the U.S. against police brutality for many years. However, to Barnes, things feel different now. He says the national spotlight has been shining on the issue more brightly than in years past, and he wants to keep the momentum going.
“I was out there during Ferguson. I saw what happened. I saw the momentum die out,” he says.
Before the group left Washington Square, Barnes warned everyone to prevent participants from breaking or looting anything. He wanted the event to be about the message, not about damaging the city. Barnes and his fellow organizers say if people really want policies to change, they need to harness their anger into specific actions.
Barnes says, “We’ll talk about repealing HB 415 here, in Utah. We’re going to talk about civilian review boards. We’re going to talk about reinvesting into the community.”
One speaker at the event may have surprised a lot of people just by being there. Former Utah Republican Party Chair James Evans spoke before the march, acknowledging his political stance might not be popular among the crowd. However, he urged people to register to vote in the Republican primary election for Utah’s governor.
“This is the first time that I can recall that, in a four-person race for governor, the minority vote could actually be the determining factor,” Evans says.
Evans called out current and former Salt Lake City mayoral administrations, saying if they really wanted police reform, they could have passed it many years ago.
He says, “Make your voice heard, because, clearly, these issues have not been addressed in a substantial way in the past.”
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