SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 31, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — The community organization Utah Against Police Brutality released the following statement following the protest in downtown Salt Lake City Saturday.
This is what happens when elected officials, police departments, and “leaders” ignore the constant call for justice in the U.S. This is what happens when the people get tired of waiting for Salt Lake and Utah to do something about racist cops and police violence. This is what happens when they refuse to listen, refuse to reform, refuse to hold officers accountable, and refuse to do what has been asked of them over and over again. This is what happens when police target black and brown people and communities for years with no consequence.
Mayor Mendenhall said that the events around the May 30 protest aren’t what justice looks like. We agree. This is what a demand looks like, a demand that can’t be ignored any longer. Justice would have been enacting real police reform, firing killer cops, addressing the systemic and constant racism. Justice would have been addressing the economic inequality, wage theft, exploitation, and poverty that plague every worker. Justice would have been listening to those of us who have been demanding changes for years. Bernardo, Cody, Patrick, Dillon, Harold, Elijah, and all the other people killed by Utah cops were still alive, or if their killers were in jail. Justice is when people like George Floyd no longer have to fear death at the hands of those who claim to “serve and protect.”
It must be mentioned that protesters demanding an end to racism and police brutality were met with hundreds of cops and many acts of the very brutality that we are seeking to end. They were met with the National Guard. They were met with a curfew. They were met with dozens of arrests. With helicopters, rubber bullets, shields and batons, and the violent force of the very institution they want to reform.
It must also be mentioned that UAPB brought the SLC government a comprehensive police reform proposal called the Salt Lake Civilian Police Accountability Council (SLCPAC). This would have created real community control of the police, an elected, civilian oversight body, that would have held killer cops accountable, that would have saved many lives. They quickly stopped working with us, and in 2019 Utah banned community control of the police outright. SLC supported that ban. Many other groups have also put forward reform proposals or policy suggestions to reign in the racist police violence we are protesting, to little effect.
We have met with city councilors, city advisers and lawyers to discuss reform. We have gone to city council meetings. We have met with candidates for office. We have participated in the CAG. We have organized dozens of peaceful protests and gatherings, held community events, and tried to help our communities. We have lobbied at the Capitol. And in response we have seen no change. In fact, the Legislature has worked to ban reform and silence protesters at public meetings.
All of this is why we organized a peaceful protest. And yet here we are, with several Utah police shootings in just the last week and many more acts of police brutality on May 30. We demand officials to finally listen to the people and do something. The time for community control of the police is now!