SALT LAKE CITY — Utah law enforcement and activists are preparing for protests following a decision from the jury on the fate of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. He is facing second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of George Floyd. The jury began deliberating Monday.
I think the entire world is preparing themselves for the verdict, Darlene McDonald, an activist in Utah said.
“You have to psychologically prepare yourself for any of it,” she said.
There will be protests no matter what, McDonald said.
The potential for civil unrest is on our radar, Sgt. Keith Horrocks with the Salt Lake City Police Dept. said. The department is prepared and watching, he said.
“We have intel analysis that are always looking at the feel of things and trying to figure out of there is going to be a potential for problems,” he said.
When a peaceful protest turned violent on May 30th last year, Sgt. Horrocks said it changed the way law enforcement looked at what could happen locally.
“While we were prepared for that and we had information for that, some of those things were actually quite surprising for us that they would happen in Salt Lake City,” he said.
There was not enough preparing, retired deputy chief of police for Unified Police said of the riot.
“I think there were law enforcement leaders that believed they had prepared for it, but what we found out was they weren’t,” Chris Bertram said.
The first amendment is crucial, Sgt. Horrocks said, and people need to be able to peacefully protest.
“Demonstrations are a good thing. They are what moves our communities forward, they make us change in places that we need to change,” he said.
Free speech is important, Bertram said, but it cannot become violent.
“When those become violent, when those become violations of law, that officers know clearly what their rules of engagement are, that they planned appropriately and that they respond appropriately,” he said.
No activist group would support violence or rioting, McDonald said.
“You don’t want to shift the conversation on what is actually happening and what we are actually and why we are actually out here protesting,” she said.
The leader of Black Lives Matter Utah, Lex Scott, said they do plan to protest following Chavin’s verdict. Black Lives Matter Utah protests have been peaceful.
“During these times no matter how I feel, I have to be that leader and I have to be strong no matter what that verdict says. So, I'm just mentally preparing myself for what are we going to do when it comes?” she said.
Utah activist Kamaal Ahmad took to Twitter saying as Chauvin’s verdict nears, many local groups will be hoping for unrest.
As the Chauvin verdict nears, certain local groups will be hoping for unrest. They will claim that they represent the black population here in Utah. *as they look for press coverage*— Kamaal S. Ahmad (@CoachKAhmad) April 19, 2021
As you probably noticed in the summer, there aren’t many black people amongst them.
“They will claim that they represent the black population here in Utah. *as they look for press coverage*As you probably noticed in the summer, there aren’t many black people amongst them,” he said.
He went on to condemn violence.
“There is no excuse for violence. Do not use the black population here in Utah as a cover for your personal agendas. You do not represent us,” he said.