Black Lives Matter supporters gathered at Taylorsville Redwood Campus to rally against police brutality on Friday, July 15.
— RickAaron (@G4URickAaron) July 15, 2016
Approximately 40 people met at Salt Lake Community College to protest the recent shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
“I came here because of police brutality in this nation,” said Oscar Ross-Junior, a supporter for police reform who also marched for the family of Dillon Taylor, an unarmed 20-year-old that was killed by police two years ago. “The black men in this nation are being harassed, and murdered; their families are being taken away from them,” Ross added.
Some of those in attendance shared different views.
“Bottom line is, all lives matter,” said a New Jersey man who identified himself as Ralph. “I don’t believe it’s [police misconduct] is as wide-scale as it’s put out to be. If you get pulled over, stop; you’ll get your turn to say your side.”
Black Lives Matter movement not without controversy
After the protests, which occurred in multiple cities across the country, three more police officers were gunned down in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on Sunday, July 17.
Many have criticized Black Lives Matter and blamed the movement for recent attacks on police officers. A “We The People” petition, which sought to list Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organization, gained over 141,000 signatures in just two weeks.
One day later the White House responded to the petition, saying, “The White House plays no role in designating domestic terror organizations,” nor does the U.S. government “generate a list of domestic terror organizations.”
Community members debate the issue
“The minority communities deal with this; cops point guns at us all the time,” said Kimber, a Hispanic youth from Salt Lake City. “They [Black Lives Matter] have a right to protest and say ‘we want our communities to be protected not killed.’”
A retired Utah officer who went by Antonio participated in the debate.
“It could’ve been a issue with training,” Antonio said in reference to the Castile shooting, which happened during a traffic stop. “It’s what we call a felony stop; what I would do during a felony stop is wait ‘til my friends [backup] get here.”
Antonio believes more specific training is the antidote to these type of situations.
“You can not have enough training,” said Antonio. “Every year officers are required to take a certain amount of hours of training in different areas like cultural diversity, firearms, etcetera.”