“It’s right to rebel!” Salt Lake City stands with Baltimore
Salt Lake City, UT – Freddie Gray committed no crime on April 12 when he was arrested by Baltimore Police Officers. Gray sustained a spinal cord injury and fell into a coma. He died on April 19.
Baltimore residents took to the streets in protest. After several days of curfew and repression from the National Guard, city prosecutor Marilyn Mosby announced criminal charges would be filed against six officers for the death of Freddie Gray. In a press conference, Mosby nodded to protesters, “I heard your calls of no justice, no peace.”
Despite rain, 200 people took the streets of Salt Lake City to show solidarity with Baltimore protesters. With Utah ranked as the third most dangerous state for police violence, people here are no stranger to the reality of police murders in America. Family members of police terror victims Dillon Taylor, Darrien Hunt and Corey Kanosh were present to condemn the racist violence against Baltimore protesters.
Those attending were encouraged to become active locally. Utah Against Police Brutality organizers urged those present to fill empty slots on the Salt Lake City police civilian review board as a first step towards a larger struggle of taking on the system.
Pratik Raghu spoke first, saying “As far as I’m concerned now, the people of Baltimore are strongly on the side of non-violence: that is, they are opposed to the vicious violence of a police force that is out of control, a state government that does not have their interests at heart whatsoever and a federal government that condemns their actions without adequately considering larger forces at play. Their resistance is fierce because they are fighting for nothing less than their community’s very survival. To condemn their anger and militancy, then, is to deny their right to exist.”
Fubuki Abe, of the group Stand For Queer Lives, spoke to the gathered crowd about the murder of transwoman Mya Hall by NSA cops in Baltimore. Abe emphasized the importance of keeping all Black lives visible. “During this movement, there have been less than subtle heteropatriarchal undertones, and if we are going to stand in unity to confront the face of white supremacy, we cannot turn a blind eye to the face of transmisogyny.”
Shekinah Stanton, from Salt Lake Community College Black Student Union, told people “This issue goes beyond a Black or white issue, this is an issue about our humanity. It's something we've lost along the way – that few still possess. We need a legal policy change, to truly make a difference that holds those in authority accountable. Community leaders, government officials and police chiefs need to sit down and have a conversation on how to make our communities communities and not war zones. And the conversation needs to happen yesterday.”
Nakita Swanigan spoke to the corrupt nature of policing in the U.S., stating “The institution needs to be torn down and rebuilt brick by brick because the foundation is wicked. Its foundation is wicked. Its foundation wasn’t built for me. It wasn’t built for you.”
Lex Scott, the president of United Front Party and member of Utah Against Police Brutality said, “Black men and women in this country are at a boiling point, we refuse to be silenced, we refuse to sit down, we will rise and remain risen. Let no one and nothing attempt to silence our beautiful rebellion.”
Scott led protesters in a chant she learned from her time in Ferguson, “Indict, convict, send that killer cop to jail! The whole damn system is guilty as hell!”
Gregory Lucero, speaking for the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, stated “What’s happening in Baltimore is not a riot, it’s a rebellion. It’s right for the people of Baltimore to rebel against the racist killer cops. It’s right to rebel against the economic system that has taken good jobs from Baltimore. It’s right to rebel against the government that continues to arm these killer cops, that has money for endless wars, but no money for schools, education and rebuilding Baltimore.” Lucero led protesters in chanting, “It’s right to rebel!”
Protesters also chanted, “You can’t respect us! You can’t protect us!” “Serve and protect, that’s a lie, you don’t care when Black folks die!” and “Black lives matter!”