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Salt Lake City protest slams police killings

By C. R. Manor

Jerrail Taylor speaking at Salt Lake City protest against police killings

Salt Lake City, UT – Chants of “No justice, no peace, no killer police!” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!” filled the streets here, Aug. 20, with about 100 people rallying at the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building. Organizer Fatima Badran urged protesters to make two phone calls: the first call to Salt Lake City police chief Chris Burbank one demanding justice for Dillon Taylor and the second to Missouri Governor Dixon to demand that he withdraw the National Guard from the streets of Ferguson. People must be allowed to have their democratic rights to address injustice without living under a military occupation.

Kim Kasey spoke out against the recent wave of police militarization. Some of the equipment used in Ferguson once belonged to U.S. soldiers occupying places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Scott Simons spoke next, telling protesters that they are the resistance. Simons’ own daughter was the victim of a police murder in January 2013.

Karen Rodriguez recited her anti-racist poem Our Skin, containing the lines “Black, for all the time when our people can’t see justice and claim at last, the freedom still isn’t ours when we look at the flag,” and, “Black is wise, Black is power, Blacks shall continue to overcome, because it is no longer a tone, color, or race, It is a name and way of being, it is a tradition, a history of colored men, women and children striving and overcoming adversity.”

Aaron Swanenberg was a close friend of Dillon Taylor, who was shot and killed Aug. 11 by a still-unnamed police officer, stated “We know that there’s evidence the police won’t release, body camera footage and 911 phone calls, why won’t they release what’s public information?” Swanenberg continued, “We can’t walk away from this now, we must keep pushing forward until we get the justice we demand.”

Members of Dillon Taylor’s family were present, including his aunt and brother. They addressed the packed crowd, thanking them for showing up to support their family and carry out the fight for justice. Jerrail Taylor was with his brother at 7-Eleven when Dillon Taylor was killed, and said that his brother had headphones in and couldn't respond to the officer’s orders.

Gregory Lucero of the Revolutionary Students Union drove home the protest by stating the demands and the need for people to take concrete actions. “We’re here to recognize the tragedy of two lives cut short by police brutality,” Lucero said. He also spoke about the need for the people to carry out the demands because police and the politicians aren't going to do the right thing. The police have both a history of murdering Black and Brown men and a history of covering it up. Lucero emphasized, “When the police murder unarmed people, it’s still murder!”

Fatima Badran plans to continue organizing street level protests, mobilizing communities to resist the onslaught of police violence.

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