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Protesters in Sandy gather to ask for specific reforms, not to 'defund the police'

Posted at 10:40 PM, Aug 09, 2020

SANDY, Utah — Dozens of protesters gathered outside Sandy Justice Court on Sunday evening to ask for police reforms.

The protest was organized by John Sullivan, a local speed skater and founder of the Black Fist Coalition.

Sullivan and other protesters told FOX 13 their main goal is to recommend specific changes, not to "defund the police."

Their first recommendation is to require all officers to wear body cameras and to have those body cameras recording at all times.

"It should be a crime to cover up the camera or otherwise claim it was turned off by accident," Sullivan wrote in a Facebook post.

The group also asked for officers to have their names, badge numbers, and other identification clearly visible at all times. The third and fourth recommendations had to do with stricter hiring qualifications and "mandatory regular training" having to do with discrimination, use of force, and police ethics.

Sullivan said he disagreed with current policies that attempt to balance the use of body cameras with an individual's right to privacy. For example, he argued that officers should not be required to turn off their cameras when entering a hospital.

Josianne Petit, a paralegal and founder of Mama and Papa Panthers, encouraged fellow protesters to vote and pay attention to issues in their local community instead of just the "high profile" cases being covered by the national media.

"I have respect for what is happening in Minneapolis and what is going on with the Floyd family. I do, but damnit I do not live in Minneapolis. I live here in Utah!" Petit said. "I want it to be safe here in Utah. This is my ****ing community! I care, and I want everyone else to care, and I need them to stop being apathetic! If you want to care about Minneapolis, by all means do. But make sure you are just as informed, if not more so, about the issues that are happening here!"

Both Petit and Sullivan said they have not experienced issues with the Sandy Police Department until recently, when Sullivan was arrested on July 10, 2020.

Sullivan said he chose to hold the protest at the Sandy Justice Center because of the Sandy Police Department's role in assisting the Provo Police Department with an investigation involving another protest. He accused officers of going through his cell phone without a warrant.

About a dozen counter-protesters attended the rally. They said their goal was to "keep the peace."

Some of the counter-protesters openly carried their collection of firearms. Although there was some yelling back and forth between the two groups, everyone left uninjured.

Protesters said they believe, ever since the first violent and destructive protest on May 31 in downtown Salt Lake City, they've been able to prove they can keep things peaceful and under control by themselves and would like to receive more credit than that.