OGDEN, Utah, Sept. 11, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A public gathering to address the need for better mental health services and police reform is scheduled for this Saturday, Sept. 12, in Ogden.
Everyone is asked to wear a mask in compliance with CDC guidelines on COVID-19.
This “rally for awareness” will be from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in front of the Ogden Municipal Building, 2549 Washington Blvd.
“The purpose is to bring attention to a different aspect of police reform,” organizer Malik Dayo, president of El Comite Social Justice Movement, told Gephardt Daily.
It comes in the wake of the Sept. 4 shooting of 13-year-old Linden Cameren by a Salt Lake City police officer.
Linden has autism, and his mother, Golda Barton, said she called 911 because her son was having a mental crisis and she was told a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) would respond to take Linden to the hospital.
CIT emergency responders are trained to safely de-escalate situations in which an individual is agitated, uncooperative, combative, frightened, or confused — or any combination of symptoms of a mental health issue.
Instead, within minutes of officers’ arrival, Linden was shot several times as he ran from them, leaving him in serious condition with injuries to his intestines, bladder, shoulder and ankles. His mother says he was unarmed and, a couple hours after the incident, the police said they hadn’t found a weapon at the scene.
Dayo said this Saturday’s gathering will be “toned down” compared to other rallies where participants chant or shout out slogans.
“The focus of this rally for awareness is on mental health,” Dayo said. “It’s a Utah issue, an American issue. And we want to let Linden Cameren know that we’re here to fight for him.”
As Dayo posted on the El Comite Facebook page, “Autism is NOT a death sentence.”
People who are on the autism spectrum will be attending the rally.
The family of Jovany Mercado-Bedolla also will be present.
Twenty-six-year-old Jovany was fatally shot by four Ogden police officers as he stood in his parents’ driveway on Aug. 16, 2019. His parents said their son was in their driveway and was holding — not brandishing — a sheathed pocket knife when he walked toward officers, who responded by shooting him more than 20 times within a few seconds of his approach.
Jovany had schizophrenia.
Others attending the gathering, in addition to El Comite representatives, will be Lex Scott, founder of the Black Lives Matter Utah chapter, and members of that organization.