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Utah rallies for nurse brutalized by Salt Lake police

By staff

Salt Lake City, UT — Some 150 people gathered in front of Salt Lake City’s public safety building to call for the immediate firing of Salt Lake City Police Department’s Jeff Payne, the cop who assaulted and arrested nurse Alex Wubbles.

“This was an egregious act of police violence against one of the most important people in our community — a nurse,” said Utah Against Police Brutality organizer Dave Newlin. “Someone who gives her life, gives her time to heal the most vulnerable among us.”

Wubbles refused to comply with Payne’s illegal demand that she provide a blood sample from an unconscious patient. When she explained the policy that prevented her from turning over a blood sample, she was assaulted and arrested while officers from the Salt Lake City Police Department (SLCPD) and the University of Utah stood by and did nothing. The incident was recorded, and the video has been viewed online millions of times and has received universal condemnation.

Karra Porter, a lawyer who represents the nurse, addressed the crowd and explained that Wubbles released the video because she felt she had a responsibility to speak out.

“She felt she owed it to everyone that this has ever happened to, every nurse who has ever been bullied by a law enforcement officer or otherwise, but didn’t have the video, so people wouldn’t believe them,” Porter said.

Newlin led the crowd in chanting “Power to the people!” and “Community control now!” Many carried signs such as “No more killer cops” and “Fire Payne now!”

Utah Against Police Brutality (UAPB) organizer Stephen Michael Christian reminded people that this is just one among many acts of police violence in Utah, and he called for community control of law enforcement.

“This attack on Alex and all the other acts of police violence are not just attacks on individuals in our community, it’s an attack on the community itself. Therefore, we need community control and we need it now,” Christian said.

Newlin reminded the crowd that while Wubbles’ assault is getting worldwide attention, we still have to fight for people like Patrick Harmon, whose cases have been brushed under the rug by authorities. SLCPD has refused to release any information about the recent police killing of Harmon, a 50-year-old homeless Black man.

The crowd responded with chants of “Release the footage!”

Psarah Johnson, director of Utah Women Unite, spoke about how the scourge of patriarchy played into the assault. She said that men and law enforcement officers need to learn to hear and accept the word “no” from women. Johnson, who suffers from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, also pointed out how close Wubbles came to being permanently disabled by the Salt Lake cop who assaulted her.

“Every time I see the video of Payne forcing her arm behind her back, I can feel my own bones crack and break,” she said.

Other speakers included Summer Smith with the People’s Power Assembly and Worker’s World Party, and Jessica Arter with UAPB and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

The rally closed with words from four-year-old Cleo Harris, who walked up to organizers and said she had something important to tell people: “No justice, no peace! No brutal police!”

The crowd responded immediately with claps and chants of the same slogan.

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