On April 20, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty on all three counts for the murder of George Floyd in May of 2020.
In the wake of the conviction, Black Lives Matter and anti-police brutality groups took to the streets in mass marches and protests across the nation, including Salt Lake City.
Echoing the protests from the summer of last year, the group peacefully assembled outside the Salt Lake City Public Safety Building. Many demonstrators carried Black Lives Matter banners, while others held picture collages of those killed at the hands of police.
More work to be done
Given the celebration of Chauvin’s conviction, the march had more hopeful tone, but many in attendance felt only a momentary sense of victory.
“I feel like we have a mixture of sadness and of happiness, just for the simple fact that we shouldn’t have to celebrate a murderer being convicted of murder,” said Black Lives Matter Utah founder Lex Scott, according to KSL. “It shouldn’t be that rare for a police officer who murders someone to be convicted of murder. So, it’s just mixed emotions, and I think today will be a healing night. I think it will be just productive venting and a community gathering of people who are celebrating and mourning.”
What the data reveals
Mapping Police Violence reports the following:
- Black people were 28% of those killed by police in 2020 despite being only 13% of the population.
- Black people are three times more likely to be killed by police than white Americans, despite being 1.3 times more likely to be unarmed.
- 98.3% of killings by police from 2013-2020 have not resulted in officers being charged with a crime.
Students speak up
For many people, supporting the cause is a matter of community and doing the right thing. This rings true for college students in Utah as well.
One protester, University of Utah student Tony Shade, carried a Black Lives Matter flag and wore a “Justice for Breonna” face mask.
“This is what I do pretty much for a living: a future Black social worker,” Shade told the Deseret News. “I care about the issues; this is just what I do.”
Former Salt Lake Community College student James Arias was also present at the march.
“Minorities face harsher punishments, and until there’s fairness in our justice system, nothing is going to change,” Arias said. “We’re using our First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble.”