The genius of the United States is not best or most in its executives or legislatures, nor in its ambassadors or authors or colleges, or churches, or parlors, nor even in its newspapers or inventors, but always most in the common people.” — Walt Whitman (1819–1892)
– Over 100 activists gathered at the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, Oct. 22, to protest police brutality. The protesters demanded justice for Darrien Hunt, the most recent victim murdered by police in Salt Lake City, as well as all victims brutalized by police. Carrying signs that read “Comply or die is not the law” and holding photos of their loved ones murdered by the police, the crowd chanted slogans including, “From Ferguson to SLC, end police brutality,” and “Not a penny, not a dollar, we won’t pay for police to slaughter.”
The rally, organized by Utah Against Police Brutality, had a list of three demands. The first was that District Attorney Sam Gill follows through on his promise to create an independent task force dedicated to investigating police officers involved in acts of brutality. The second demand was the police end the use of deadly force against unarmed civilians. The third demand was that the police officers who shot Darrien Hunt be charged with murder.
“We are here because justice has not been served,” stated Christopher Manor, a member of Utah Against Police Brutality and the main organizer of the event. “I don’t want my tax dollars to pay for a police officer to get a paid vacation because he shot somebody down.”
Another speaker was Lex Scott, the president and founder of United Front Party, a Black civil rights organization that originated in Utah and has chapters nationally. “I’m here to stand against police brutality,” said Scott. “Police are not the judge, jury, and executioners.”
Gregory Lucero, of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, talked about the origins of police brutality. He said, “What most people don’t realize is that many police departments started as slave patrols that would kidnap escaped slaves and return them to slave owners.” He continued, “This police system is not a few bad eggs. It’s systemic oppression from a system made to keep the African American and Chicano nations in chains.”
One of the protesters, Melinda Tucker, carried a photograph of her brother Joey who was murdered by police in 2009 after his family called for help while he suffered a medical emergency related to his diabetes. Tucker attended the protest wearing a shirt that bore a list of victims murdered by police. “My shirt keeps growing with names” Tucker said, referring to the numerous people slain by SLCPD officers since her brother’s death.
“We’re a little too comfortable in our oppression, aren’t we?” Lex Scott asked. “We’re going to stand up, and never sit down again.”