As #BlackLivesMatter Protests Reach Salt Lake City, Protestors Surround SLCPD and Utah State Capitol


(Ivana Martinez | Daily Utah Chronicle) Black Lives Matters protesters march for George Floyd in downtown Salt Lake City on May 30, 2020.

By Ivana Martinez and Natalie Colby

Update: Gov. Gary Herbert has now mandated an 8 p.m. curfew for the night of May 30, 2020.

Salt Lake City Police Department announced on Twitter the curfew will be mandated until Monday, June 1.

Gov. Herbert announced on Twitter he activated the National Guard to limit the protesting downtown after a police car was vandalized.  

According to Ben Winslow, on Twitter tear gas was thrown into the crowds. 

After the release of a video of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, being murdered by Minneapolis police, protests sparked all over the country. On May 30, in downtown Salt Lake City, protestors hopped into cars and marched the streets demanding justice for Black Lives across America. 

Protesters gathered at a parking lot at 500 South and Denver St. handing out signs and prepared to head out to the streets. Protester Rae Duckworth spoke about her experience with police brutality in her life and what it meant to find a community with the Black Lives Matter movement in Salt Lake City as an adult. 

Duckworth’s cousin, Bobby Duckworth was shot by a police officer in Utah after her family called the police expressing concerns for Bobby’s mental health. She said her family had a fear he was going to hurt himself. 

Rae Duckworth described her cousin as a big giant Black kid, but a teddy bear and a total sweetheart.

“You can tell from the body cam footage, [the officer] was scared and he was scared that a Black man was approaching him after he had just told him to come toward him,” she said. “And he gave my cousin six or seven bullets.”

After her personal experience with police brutality, Rae Duckworth decided to get involved with the Black Lives Matter chapter in Utah. She said even though Utah is majority white, there are still chapters here. 

“I’m 28 years old and if I knew this establishment was here when I was a kid, I would have felt a lot more comfortable growing up,” she said.

Among the protestors were Naia James and Zela Long, who were at the rally to bring awareness to the cause. “Being Black in America does something to your mind, when you see people who look like you and talk like you dying on the streets,” Long said.

Long said they attended to protest the corrupt police system, she said there cannot be a good police officer in the system. “The system isn’t broke, it’s doing what it’s supposed to do which is oppress people of color and kill people of color,” she said. “So to be honest the system needs to be shut down and completely rebuilt.” 

“They’re being watched, everything they do is under a microscope because they are killing multiple of us and now we are not sitting still,” James said. 

While the protest may have been sparked by other protests for George Flloyd and Breona Taylor, they also highlighted police brutality against people in Utah specifically. 

Chants were led calling for justice for Bernardo Palacios who was shot and killed in Rose Park, Utah last Saturday. 

Protesters also yelled for justice for Richie Santiago, Patrick Harmon, Dillon Taylor, Elijah James Smith and James Dudley-Parker, who were all killed in Utah by Utah police. 

Carly Halderman, a member of Utah against police brutality, said the disproportionate killing of people of color in an 80% white state such as Utah “is not a coincidence, that’s institutional racism.” 

The cars protesting surrounded and circled the Salt Lake City Police Department as they honked and shouted Black Lives Matter. The cars were decorated with a variety of statements and protestors hung out the windows with their fists up to show solidarity with the movement. 

One person stood in the bed of his trunk and flew a white flag that read ‘All Cops Are Bastards,’ a popular statement meant to emphasize the opinion that the police system is corrupt and therefore no cops can be considered good. 

Protesters marched through the streets through the City Library to gather at the Salt Lake Police Department where some protesters wrote on the walls and jumped on the building leading chants of “No justice, no peace.” There were no visual cops on sight of the protest. Protesters then headed to the state capitol chanting, “Cops and Klan go hand in hand.”

Despite organizers’ plans to encourage social distancing and for people to stay in their cars, protestors gathered in large crowds and marched next to each other disregarding the six-feet apart rule. There were traffic jams located in the downtown area as protesters hung out of their cars and honked through the streets demanding justice.  

Malinda Peschong, who is from Minnesota, has been traveling with her children across the country for the past couple of months and learned about the protest online. Peschong said she was surprised and warmed by the people in Utah and the white allies that showed up in support.

Peschong said while she’s been in Utah, her black son has not left her sight because she is scared for his safety. Peschong said those who showed up put change in her heart and reminded her there is good everywhere even when they don’t see it.  

As the protests continue, she said she hopes people will learn and change, that it isn’t all in vain. 

“We’re absolutely freaking fed up, we’re hurt, we’re angry, and we’re tired,” Peschong said. “We’re tired of the injustice for ourselves, we’re tired of the injustice for our children.”

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