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Drop the charges against Abdi Mohamed

Salt Lake City protests police violence, calls for DA’s resignation
By Nick Godfrey |
April 10, 2017
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Salt Lake City, UT – Heavy winds blew and rain fell on Utah anti-police-brutality activists, April 8, but they stood defiant, refusing to let weather dilute their message that prosecutors must drop the ridiculous charges against Abdullahi “Abdi” Mohamed, who was shot and paralyzed by Salt Lake City police last year.

Passersby could hear the chanting from two dozen people for blocks near the downtown Matheson courthouse, where Utah Against Police Brutality (UAPB) staged the protest. “From Jacksonville to SLC, end police brutality!” rang out along with calls for “Community control now!”

Police paralyzed Mohamed, a Somali refugee, on Feb. 27, 2016 during an altercation between the then-17-year-old boy and another man. They claim Mohamed was holding a ‘weapon,’ which turned out to be a hollow broom handle. Officers Kory Checketts and Jordan Winegar fired on him without any indication that he was a threat or that he had heard or understood them. Barely 15 seconds had passed before officers shot the youth four times.

Police later claimed he was trying to sell $1.10 worth of drugs. District Attorney Sim Gill has charged Abdi, who is now 19, in juvenile court with first-degree felony robbery and second-degree felony possession of drugs with intent to distribute. The DA has said publicly he hopes to move the case to adult court. Gill also declared the shooting “justified,” even though a civilian review board found the incident was “not within policy.”

UAPB has campaigned over the last year for body camera footage to be released, for the charges to be dropped, and for Gill’s resignation. Body camera footage was eventually released, but officials continue their relentless pursuit in punishing a survivor of police brutality who may never walk again.

“As a community, it is up to us to hold police and ICE accountable for the constant dehumanization of Black and brown immigrants,” activist Adrian Romero told the crowd. “We must continue to demand justice for Abdi Mohamed, and all others like him who suffer as a result of the racist, xenophobic institution that is American law enforcement.”

Jessica Arter led the rally in a chant, “Hey Sim Gill, can’t you see? Stop attacking refugees.” She also mentioned the previous day’s act of brutality by cops in Jacksonville, Florida, where peaceful anti-war protesters were viciously attacked by provocateurs, but police arrested five protesters and did nothing about the attackers.

“We have to take a stand for everyone under attack from police violence,” said UAPB organizer Ian De Oliveria, of UAPB.

Damon Harris of Cop Watch spoke on other recent victims of police violence in Utah, including Dillon Taylor, Darrian Hunt and James Barker, outlining the vast differences between what police say happened and what footage of the events show.

The raucous crowd also called loudly for “community control now,” and for the creation of a new, independent civilian review board that, unlike the currently toothless body, would have the power to indict offers. UAPD is modeling its demand on Chicago's campaign for the Civilian Police Accountability Council.