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Salt Lake City group demands police out of schools, end to racist discrimination

By Alyssa Ferris |
November 6, 2015
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Gregory Lucero of Utah Against Police Brutality speaking at school board meeting

Salt Lake City, UT—A dozen community members rallied outside the Salt Lake City School Board meeting on Nov. 3, before taking their message inside for public comment. The protesters are demanding the removal of police from the Salt Lake City School District campuses and an end to racist discrimination.

Residents and parents are concerned after seeing video of the brutal police assault against an African American teen while sitting at her desk in a South Carolina high school. Not wanting to see a repeat in Salt Lake City, Utah Against Police Brutality called for an emergency action. School board member Michael Clara says there is a disproportionate number of police assigned to west side schools where Chicano, Latino, Pacific Islander, and African American students are the majority.

This past year, School Board President Heather Bennett called for police to monitor her fellow board member Michael Clara at meetings, claiming he was extreme on a phone call. Clara points to political disagreements and his web page challenging the school district’s leadership.

In another instance, Clara says the School Board violated Utah state law and its own policies by allowing Superintendent McKell Withers to reorganize the equality program and demote the African American administrator. In her place, Withers unilaterally appointed three highly paid white administrators.

Gregory Lucero of Utah Against Police Brutality led the protest with chants such as “Bennett, Bennett, can't you hear? We don't want your cops in here!” Protesters also chanted in solidarity with the South Carolina people, “Hey ho, hey ho, these racist cops have got to go.”

Adrian Romero of Stand for Queer Lives spoke about attending East High School “We faced constant racism. People were put into ESL (English as a Second Language) simply because they were Mexican, not because they needed it. I remember how we all were treated like criminals.”

Gregory Lucero finished the rally saying, “We will keep fighting as long as Salt Lake City School District continues to discriminate against oppressed nationality children. When Black and brown kids are under attack, what do we do?” The group responded, “Stand up fight back!”