Salt Lake City, UT – On April 20, about three hours after killer cop Derek Chauvin’s triple guilty verdict, hundreds of people gathered, relieved to hear the verdict and motivated to demand further action in combating police crimes. Marching in solidarity with Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many other cities around the country, the people of Salt Lake City demanded further action and accountability for the entire policing system that terrorizes our communities.
Starting from the Salt Lake Public Safety Building and marching to the Victims of Police Brutality murals, a community memorial depicting many of those in Utah who have lost their lives due to police violence, as well as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. There, protesters chanted and heard from speakers calling for further action.
Led by Black Lives Matter Utah, Utah Against Police Brutality, and additionally, Salt Lake Equal Rights Movement, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, there were many community leaders and organizers present. The demands were for community control of the police, further accountability for all killer cops, and justice for all victims of police violence, local and across the nation.
Speaking at the beginning of the event, a community organizer captured the feeling of the crowd, saying “I think it’s a real shame that it’s 2021 and we are celebrating this [verdict] because it’s that unusual.”
This guilty verdict is indeed a victory; however, it is long overdue. Other speakers made it clear where the credit belongs. Local radio host, Billy Palmer of 90.9 KRCL, reminded the gathered crowd that “mobilizing is what works. We wouldn’t be here if we hadn’t taken to the streets,” and encouraged those present not to lose momentum, saying “this is the door opening, this is the beginning.” This protest was a celebration for all those devoted to and organizing for the betterment of our communities, but more importantly a call that more has to be done, to continue to strive to achieve true justice in the full.
In a written piece presented to the crowd gathered at the murals, Golda Barton stated that “we must act on behalf of those who did not survive.” Barton, mother of Linden Cameron, a 13 year-old autistic boy who was shot 14 times by Salt Lake City police during a mental health crisis call, is no stranger to the trauma police can inflict on families and communities, having lost her father to police violence hardly a year earlier. Fortunately, Cameron survived his encounter with police, but the ramifications will be lifelong in impact. Barton finished her statement saying “there is no debate on what’s right and what’s wrong, this has gone on far too long!”
The fight is on for community control of the police. As a member of the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, which has been building the community control movement since the 1970s, Carly Bultez, speaking for Utah Against Police Brutality and Freedom Road Socialist Organization, said “it’s a democratic right to determine the future of our communities. It’s a democratic right for us to say what public safety looks like in our communities.”
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