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Thousands of Utahns at anti-racist rally in solidarity with Charlottesville

By staff |
August 15, 2017
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Thousands of protesters took over Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City.
Thousands of protesters took over Washington Square in downtown Salt Lake City in solidarity with Charlottesville. (Fight Back! News / Staff)
Moroni Benally with Utah League of Native American voters addresses protesters
Moroni Benally with Utah League of Native American voters addresses thousands at a solidarity protest in Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake City, UT — In the wake of the brutal Nazi attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, Utahns gathered in downtown Salt Lake City. They condemned American fascists and racists, and called on people to fight back against the rise of right-wing terrorism and hate.

Moroni Benally, who organized the event with the Utah League of Native American Voters, told the crowd that he was saddened but not surprised by the events in Charlottesville, pointing out that people of color face attacks on their lives and communities almost daily. He asked the crowd to be “a bulwark against hate.”

After leading the crowd in a moment of silence, Banally finished by saying, “Take a stand against Nazism! Take a stand against fascism! We will not tolerate it! We will not allow it to exist!”

Over 2000 people attended the August 14 event, held at Washington Square, despite a threatening rainstorm. Demonstrators carried signs that read “White silence = white violence,” “Make Nazis afraid,” and “End white supremacy!”

A number of speakers took to the stage to point out the long history of white supremacy in the U.S.

“The policies and actions that the U.S. has employed to oppress, exploit and murder Black and brown people living inside its borders have always been one of the greatest inspirations to fascists in every corner of the world,” said Ian De Olivera, an organizer with Utah Against Police Brutality.

Speaker Brooks Bergman, with Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Utah, spoke to a recent incident where white supremacist posters were placed around the school’s student center. Bergman said that Students need to fight this type of provocation on their campuses.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes tried to address the crowd, but was shouted off the stage by protesters chanting, “We want justice!” Earlier in the day, Reyes had praised Trump’s hollow and belated statement on the Charlottesville attack. Reyes has also supported the racist movement to turn over sacred Native American lands in southern Utah to oil and gas developers.

A small number of right-wing types appeared, but were quickly chased off by the anti-racist demonstrators.

Other speakers included representatives from Racially Just Utah, Peaceful Advocates for Native Dialogue & Organizing Support, the Utah Women of Color Council, Equality Utah, as well as local activists and politicians.