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Hundreds take to the streets in Salt Lake demanding community control of police

By staff |
July 20, 2020
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Utah march against police crimes.
Utah march against police crimes. Utah march against police crimes.

Salt Lake City, UT - Hundreds gathered at the Utah Capitol building Saturday, July 18, to demand community control over the police and demand Governor Gary Herbert call a special session of the legislature to repeal a recent law that bans community control in Utah, known as HB 415.

Utah Against Police Brutality (UAPB) organized the event in response to the day of protest called by the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. It was the latest of the near-daily protests in Utah since the police murders of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal in Salt Lake.

“We need to repeal HB 415 and continue to take to the streets to demand justice for all victims of police violence, stopping at nothing less than SLCPAC and community regulation of the police,” said Carly Haldeman, an organizer with UAPB and Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Haldeman referred to a Utah law passed in 2019 that bans any independently-elected board the power to constrain a police chief, investigate officers for misconduct, or veto a police policy. The law was a direct response to the community control legislation sought by UAPB and many other groups over the last several years.

After hearing from organizers with For the People, the Sunrise Movement, and Students for a Democratic Society, protesters took to the streets and marched to the governor's mansion to demand a special session on HB 415. Chants like “CPAC, fight back!” could be heard from the intersections occupied by protesters.

Since May 30, there have been continuous protests demanding justice for victims of police crimes such as Palacios-Carbajal, who was murdered by SLCPD in late May. Cops shot him more than 35 times in the back as he was running away. Nevertheless, District Attorney Sim Gill found the killing “justified” despite overwhelming evidence of murder and an overwhelming outcry from thousands of protesters.

“They took a poll in Utah; it shows 88% of Utahns overwhelmingly support police reform,” said UAPB organizer Mike Ramos, referencing a recent survey by the Libertas Institute.

“It’s not just us, it’s Utah that wants police reform,” said Ramos. “I am here as a Black man, and also Hispanic. I’m here for my beautiful Black children and their futures. We need community control of our neighborhoods. We want justice for Bernardo, Chad and Bryan. We want justice for everyone.”

Rae Duckworth, a member of Black Lives Matter Utah and cousin of Bobby Duckworth, who was murdered by Carbon County deputies in 2019, said, “I’m here because Bobby deserves justice. No one deserves bullets. The people deserve justice.”

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