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Salt Lake City: Demand charges be dropped against Inland Port protesters, end to police brutality

By Gabriella Killpack |
October 28, 2019
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Salt Lake City, UT - Sixty people rallied at Library Square in Salt Lake City, October 26, for the National Day of Action Against Police Brutality and Repression. The event, hosted by Utah Against Police Brutality (UAPB), focused on the devastating year of police violence locally, with eight people killed by police in 2019 so far. Organizers also denounced the recent charges of 14 anti-Inland Port activists, including ten felony riot charges.

"Not only do we have killings nationwide, we have them here, police killings continue everywhere,” said UAPB organizer Deb Blake, who emceed the event. “We know that police violence comes in many forms. We saw that recently with the attack on the Inland Port protesters."

Last July, activists held a sit-in at the offices Derek Miller, who is both chairman of the Inland Port Authority board and the local Chamber of Commerce. They demanded an end to the proposed Inland Port project, which would exacerbate Salt Lake County’s already poor air quality, which is some of the worst in the country.

Police shoved, punched, and strangled protesters. Utah Governor Gary Herbert called the protesters “borderline terrorists.”

“From the inception of the inland port, this has been nothing but a money grab. It’s been completely against the will of the people since day one,” said Lou-Michél McKee, an organizer with the group Civil Riot. “They characterize us as being terrorists, as being the violent ones, yet they’re destroying our land.”

Marvin Oliveros, brother of Cody Belgard, who was killed by police last year, spoke on understanding the families affected by police violence. He led a chant calling for justice for the victims of police murders and their mothers.

“They create all these hurdles to get answers. [Cody Belgard] was unarmed, and a cop chose to yell ‘he has a gun.’ We know he didn’t have a gun.”

UAPB organizer and Freedom Road Socialist Organization member Dave Newlin demanded that charges be dropped against the peaceful protesters.

“They want to take these 14 people and hang them,” he said. They want to make an example out of them, they want to silence them. They want to show to everybody else that they have the power and we don't. But they're wrong, we have the power.”

The rally closed with a call to attend the refounding of the National Alliance against Racist and Pollical Repression conference in Chicago. UAPB presented a video on the conference by Frank Chapman and Angela Davis to the crowd. After the rally, people discussed their plans for the conference, and more made the decision to attend.

"The whole point of refounding the NAARPR is to defend people just like me and all the other Inland Port protesters who are being silenced and repressed,” Newlin said. “It exists to challenge and ultimately defeat the rule of big money, racist politicians, and their corrupt lackeys, the police. Anyone who wants to fight the brutality of capitalist policing - anyone who really wants to win - should be there in Chicago this November."