On Saturday, Nov. 29, local grass roots group Utah Against Police Brutality organized a peaceful protest in downtown Salt Lake City. The protest was aimed at calling attention to the recent troubling rise in cases of police brutality and questionable deaths across the country. Similiar protests have erupted in cities nationwide after the failure of the St. Louis justice system to indict the police officer responsible for the murder of Michael Brown. Despite our low crime rate, Utah has had its own issues with questionable police killings, and recent reports show that death by police is second only to domestic violence when it comes to violent deaths in the state.
The protest began at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building, where speakers addressed a crowd that grew quickly throughout the hour. Among the speakers were family members of victims Danielle Willard, Dillon Taylor, Darrien Hunt, and Corey Kanosh, as well as individuals such as Jacoyia Roseberry with first hand experience of unwarranted police violence. Several protestors performed music, and Karen Rodriguez performed powerful poetry. Former mayor Rocky Anderson spoke last, before the crowd was directed to shut down State Street with a march to the Matheson Courthouse on 400 South. After several minutes of chanting at the courthouse, the protest moved east to the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, and then returned to the Federal Building.
The protest went very smoothly, and the only confrontation I encountered were officers ordering a photographer down from a high fountain statue that he’d climbed for a shot. Beyond that, the police only kept traffic at a distance, did not hassle the crowd, and arrested no one. Passersby were mostly positive, a bit surprising as people always seem to be bolder behind dashboards and keyboards. The protest received more supportive honks than anything, and during the march we had several pedestrians join the group, and many supportive waves and nods from porches and storefronts. It was a pretty organized affair and volunteers with the group did very well, but it was occasionally difficult to hear speakers in the rear of the crowd. Nevertheless, the group remained responsive and positive, with representatives from a wide swath of communities and generations, with no agitators or destructive participants.
Utah Against Police Brutality also passed out demands, which will be put into action immediately following the rally. The group will hold future open houses to discuss actions and invites interested parties. To get involved, find Utah Against Police Brutality on Facebook.
Check out Nick Kuzmack’s extended coverage of the protest!