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Black Lives Matter Utah calls for justice through protest

Posted at 9:09 PM, Apr 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-16 23:41:48-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Protesters peacefully gathered with signs, bullhorns, and pots and pans outside the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building Friday evening in the wake of the latest police shooting death and just before a pivotal moment in the murder trial of the former officer involved in George Floyd's death.

From watching the murder trial of Derek Chauvin to learning about the police shooting death of Daunte Wright — with claims the officer mistook her gun for her taser — protesters expressed feeling a lot of rage and frustration this week.

Whether a person of color or an ally, they gathered — just like they've done many times before.

"No justice, no peace!" the group shouted, led by Lex Scott of Black Lives Matter Utah.

Some clanked pots and pans together, the clashing adding to the crescendo of chanting.

They repeated lines like "Black Lives Matter!" — just like they've done many times before.

The crowd recited names of those killed by police — just like they've done many times before.

Some of the names are of people in Utah, like Bryan Valencia. Others, like George Floyd, are from across the country.

READ: UPD officer was not justified in March 2020 use of deadly force, DA says

But no matter the location, Tash for the People explained these situations all hit the same.

"Even though it's so far away physically... he could be my brother," independent community activist Tash for the People said. "That's how I feel. I feel like that's how every Black person feels. This could be a family member, this could be my friend, this could be... it hits home very closely."

This time, the group added a new name: Daunte Wright.

"All this anger and emotion that is bubbling up, and then the murder of Daunte Wright — I think that just really threw people off," Tash for the People said. "Again, kind of the same time last year as the murder of George Floyd, just threw people off."

Wright was killed by a police officer in Minnesota Sunday. That police department has said the officer accidentally grabbed her gun instead of her taser. Former officer Kim Potter has since been charged with manslaughter.

READ: Officer who shot Daunte Wright charged with manslaughter, released from jail after posting bail

Wright's death comes just over a month shy of the one-year anniversary of George Floyd's death. This week, the country has been watching the murder trial unfold for former officer Derek Chauvin.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations next week.

READ: Testimony ends in Chauvin trial without ex-officer taking stand; closing arguments Monday

"It's triggering," Tash for the People said. "It's bringing up a lot of emotions and people right now are pent up and need somewhere to release that."

They released those emotions Friday, rallying together outside the Salt Lake City Police building.

SLCPD officers stepped outside briefly, but mostly watched through windows of the lobby.

"We shouldn't still have to be here. We shouldn't have to fight for basic human rights," Lex Scott said, emotionally crying out.

Black Lives Matter Utah sent a message — just like they have, many times before.

"I think having this protest today allows people to come here, allows people to feel that community," Tash for the People said, adding, "Everyone's on the same page. We're all frustrated. We all want justice."