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Utah: Gathering to demand justice, mourn for Trayvon Martin

By David Newlin |
March 1, 2013
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Utah vigil for Trayvon Martin
Utah vigil for Trayvon Martin (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Salt Lake City, UT - Trayvon Martin's death sparked outrage and also a movement to combat the racism that led to his murder at the hands of George Zimmerman. On the one-year anniversary of his death, Utahans met as part of that movement to both mourn his passing and learn about racism, police brutality and how to fight them.

More than 40 people attended the panel discussion and vigil organized by the Salt Lake Community College Revolutionary Students Union.

Reverend Michael Minch, a professor of philosophy at Utah Valley University (UVU) spoke on the pervasive violence, both physical, economic and spiritual, which characterizes racism in America, as did Doctor Jeff Torlina, also of UVU.

Leah Farrel, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah, addressed the crowd about the ongoing racist tactics of the Salt Lake Area police. In December 2010, police rounded up 40 students at West High School, all Chicano, Polynesian or Black, and detained them, claimed they were in gangs, photographed them and placed them on a list of known gang members, though none of them were. Farrell has been involved in an ongoing class-action lawsuit directed at police agencies involved in the incident, including the Unified Police Metro Gang Unit.

The crowd also heard from Michael Sampson, president of the Florida State University Dream Defenders, a group which formed in the wake of Trayvon Martin’s murder and fights to defend the rights of Black and brown people. Sampson explained the on-the-ground situation of Florida. He also encouraged those looking to combat racism to display their power through organization.

A vigil was held afterwards, where Reverend Minch offered words of mourning, encouragement toward action and prayer. Others then offered their thoughts on Martin’s death, with many stressing the need to fight for justice and to fight for the living.