Black Lives Matter Protests Continue for the Fourth Consecutive Day

By Ivana Martinez and Natalie Colby

Protests continued for the fourth day straight in Salt Lake City, meeting at the Utah State Capitol for an event organized by Black Hammer Utah. The event garnered a crowd that filled the grass and surrounding streets in front of the capitol while police officers watched on from the front and steps of the capitol — blocking anyone from entering. 

After almost five minutes of reading a portion of names of people who have been killed by police, organizers opened the mic up to the crowd and specifically for Black people to talk, share stories and their advice. 

Once the first speaker, Auburn Thayer, went to the mic a line formed behind them. Over 25 Black people from ages 16- 63 spoke about their personal feelings and experiences with police, racial profiling and the experience of being Black in Utah — a majority white, conservative state. 

One speaker, Faith Amin pointed out the lack of training police officers have to go through before they begin their jobs — eight weeks — in comparison to a nail technician, who has to undergo two years of training and get a certification. 

In Utah, the requirements for an entry level police officer include having a high school diploma, being a minimum of 21 years of age, and to graduate from Utah Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) Academy with P.O.S.T. certification as a Law Enforcement Officer within six months of hire.

Other speakers shared their personal experience with having to face systemic racism at a young age. UC Berkeley student, Abena BakenRa shared her personal experience when she realized there was a problem with the system.  

“My nephew before he got to middle school said, ‘auntie, I don’t want to be another hashtag.’ And that’s how I knew this country was messed up. I’ve been out here,” BakenRa said. “I planned and I’ve led Black Lives Matter protests since I was 15 and I can’t say I saw this many people there.”

Some speakers became emotional after telling their own stories with racial bias or discrimination. One speaker — a student, Jessica Karnga, said she’d been called racial slurs by her Cottonwood High School assistant principal, Mike Miller. Another protester in the crowd quickly looked up the school district before confirming the identity of the alleged man.   

Another speaker, Jenny, who wanted to keep her last name anonymous, said she had to think about the fact that within a few hours of spray paint covering the front of the Utah State capitol from Saturday’s protest, they already had crews ready to clean up and spray down the Capitol.

“In a matter of hours, this building would be cleaned up, but how long is it going to take for the system to be cleaned up? What measures are put in place to clean the corruption?” she said. 

A common sentiment among speakers was encouraging white people to educate themselves and not rely on their black friends to do so.

The protest continued for several hours, many leading chants down the streets of Salt Lake City. During the march, protesters took a moment to lay down near the city library on the floor and honor the victims of police brutality. 

Many protesters showed up in cars and on bicycles, handing out water and granola bars to demonstrators as they marched and carrying trash bags for empty water bottles and other trash. While there was heavy police presence and a helicopter circling the entire time, the march remained peaceful. 

As demonstrators passed the Washington Square Park, Mayor Erin Mendenhall joined in by taking a knee with other council members. 

“I want to honor the movement that is happening in our city and across the nation. It’s the least I can do to show my support for the protesters,” Mendenhall said in an interview with the Daily Utah Chronicle. 

When asked about the proposed budget which was under review, Mendenhall replied that it would be finalized in the middle of June. 

Protestors continued marching in the streets of SLC for over three miles, leading several chants along the way. They chanted, “No justice. No peace,” “I can’t breathe,” “Say his name, George Floyd. Say her name, Breonna Taylor.” 

Eventually, the remaining protestors returned to the capitol, where they continued to chant at the police officers on the steps and share testimonials and speeches for another hour. 

Protests are planned for the several upcoming days and with the release of the body cam footage from SLCPD police shooting Bernardo Palacios a week ago, they show no signs of stopping.

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