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Police assault Salt Lake City pollution protesters

By Bryn Dayton |
July 17, 2019
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Salt Lake City, UT - More than 100 people gathered at the City and County Building on July 9 to protest the construction of the Inland Port in northwest Salt Lake Valley. The Inland Port will worsen air quality in Salt Lake Valley, which already has some of the worst air in the United States. Police assaulted the protesters, who were singing songs and dancing, inside the Chamber of Commerce Building, injuring many and arresting eight.

As the rally began, Ella Mendoza was very clear about how the Inland Port was an example of environmental racism. While polluted air affects everyone, it is especially bad for the working people who live closest to it and especially those who work outside. In Salt Lake City, many of those workers are Chicano, Mexicano and other oppressed nationalities. Mendoza named the system that is driving the construction of the Inland Port: “It’s because of capitalism.”

From the rally, the protest moved across the street to the office of Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce President Derek Miller, who is also chairman of the Inland Port Authority Board. As they rallied inside the building on the first floor, protesters chanted “Derek Miller, Salt Lake killer.” Some of the protesters proceeded up to the sixth floor, where they staged a peaceful sit-in outside Miller’s office.

Protesters on the first floor continued to dance, sing and perform a short piece of street theatre in which animals native to Utah defeated and destroyed the Inland Port. Then the police entered the building. Officers immediately started shoving protesters, attempting to get them to leave the building. Protesters were pushed to the ground, choked and punched, with no regard for wheelchair users and other people with disabilities.

The day after the protest, many so-called city leaders of Salt Lake City falsely accused the protesters of instigating violence at the rally. They praised the police for “keeping people safe.” Jackie Biskupski, the mayor of Salt Lake City, claims to be fighting against the port. However, the mayor spent more time condemning the actions of the protesters than condemning the effects of the proposed inland port or her police force that hurt so many people.