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Utah's Pacific Islander community rallies in support of Black Lives Matter

Show of solidarity
Posted at 1:59 PM, Jun 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-05 15:59:09-04

SALT LAKE CITY — They call themselves "Pacific Islanders for Black Lives Matter Utah."

Just after sunrise Friday morning, they led a peaceful march in downtown Salt Lake City.

They say family plays an important role n the Polynesian culture -- and In their eyes -- their black brothers and sisters are family who are hurting and need support.

A small crowd formed on the lawn of Washington Square where they raised their voices and called for police reform and racial justice.

"Tongans, Samoans, Micronesians, Maori are very much the history that also made Utah," Amelia Tauvai said. "So it’s very important we learn from each other."

Some 100 protesters -- young and old -- lay on the ground for 9 minutes to symbolize the amount of time George Floyd was restrained by a Minneapolis officer.

They want Black Lives Matter to know they are not alone.

"There is that strong connection because this is about being kind good humans," community organizer Verona Mauga said. "It’s about taking care of each other and supporting each other."

The feeling is mutual.

"I don’t know if the Pacific Islander Community knows that Black Lives Matter Utah is here for you as well," said Lex Scott who founded the Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter.

They carried that message of unity from Washington Square to the Capitol holding signs and chanting.

It’s one small step they can take to show their black brothers and sisters that they will defend and protect them.

"Some of the injustices that they’re experiencing, we experience it as people of color, as Pacific Islanders," Mauga said. "The profiling among Pacific Islanders, the issues in school, the school-to-prison pipeline. Those issues affect our children."

Pasifika First Fridays is a group of local artists that put together an art display of signs on the steps of Washington Square.

They hope people who took part in Friday's march will be inspired and continue speaking out.

Above all, they urge people to get out and vote.