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Salt Lake rallies and marches after police shooting of Abdi Mohamed

By Alyssa Ferris |
March 2, 2016
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Salt Lake City protest against police shooting of Abdi Mohamed.
Salt Lake City protest against police shooting of Abdi Mohamed. (Fight Back! News/Patricio M. Panuncio‎)

Salt Lake City, UT - 1000 people rallied and marched Feb 29, demanding justice for Abdullahi Omar Mohamed, who was shot and severely injured the night of Feb. 27, near the homeless shelter. Abdi Mohamed, a 17-year-old Black youth, engaged in a confrontation with a much older white man. Mohamed had an aluminum broom stick when the police arrived. They demanded he drop the broomstick and before he had a chance to comply they shot him multiple times. This sparked a rebellion among the homeless who clashed with police, resulting in 100 officers, many in riot gear, clearing the street.

Utah Against Police Brutality called for the Feb. 29 emergency action at the Federal Building. Organizer Carly Haldeman explained, “This issue isn't just about one boy, our city, or this state. This is a national problem.” The rally included many speakers, including the families of past victims of police violence and the family of Mohamed.

Ricky Bonack, a local activist, urged the crowd to continue fighting. “Revolution is not liking a status on Facebook.” He added, “It's time to get live, it's time to represent, Salt Lake City what time is it?”

Michael Christian from Utah Against Police Brutality criticized the interim police chief, stating, “Not too many weeks ago interim Police Chief Brown assured us that the SLPD was on top of things and decreasing the use of force. However, not even two weeks later, any hope that the SLPD could be trusted was lost.”

Gabriella Kilpack spoke about living right next to the site shooting. She described talking to someone about the shooting, “People were telling me how a young teenage young man was shot in the back. People were crying, and his body was just left lying in the street.” She continued, “People were angry, it is a right to rebel.”

Former council member Deeda Seed listed two of the main demands of the crowd, “In addition to transparency, we need a new civilian review board.”

Heidi Keilbaugh, the partner of James Barker, who the police killed last year and a founder of Utah for Peaceful Resolution, spoke out as well. “James Barker was my partner love and they left him dead to bleed out for seven hours. Why do they shoot him? Because he was shoveling ice.”

Gina Thane, the aunt of Dillon Taylor, spoke out for police guidelines for officer involved shootings, “The only requirement is that the officer claims to have feared for his life, and that's getting really old really fast.”

Lexx Scott from the United Front Party spoke next explaining her reasons for being there. “I fight for Susan Hunt, Gina Thanye, Dillon Taylor, Sandra Bland, Darrien Hunt and Abdi Muhammad.”

Sean Taylor spoke for the University of Utah Students for a Democratic Society stating (SDS), “SDSers across the country will be holding a week of action to support Abdi Mohamed.” Damon Harris from SLC Cop watch explained the current structure of police accountability, “It’s police policing the police. We need a community control review board.”

Friends and family spoke second to last. Salem Mohamed witnessed the scene and described it. “It was injustice,” she said. “There was a fight between a six foot tall 45-year-old man who said something to us. His back was too the police and the cops had their guns out before saying anything. They said drop it, and they shot him before he even had a chance to turn around.”

Gregory Lucero of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization closed out the rally. He led the crowd in the chants “Fuck the police,” and “Our community, our control.” He condemned the myth of the ‘good cop.’ “The police started as fugitive slave catchers and they're still doing it today. Maybe there are some individual cops who are nice and give out milk and cookies, but that's not what we're talking about. We are talking about a whole oppressive system of police enforcing.”

Protesters took to the streets in a spontaneous expression of anger. They marched down to the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building to protest the local police. They marched back to the Federal Building and then held the intersection around it for a half hour before dispersing without any arrests.