Students Organize Protest In Memory Of Black Lives Lost To Police Brutality
More than 300 people attended the student sponsored Youth Against Police Brutality protest on Dozier Field. It was a mix of young people, adults and community leaders.
The protest was put together in less than two days. Strict distancing and mask wearing practices were in place in addition to sign in sheets requesting address and phone numbers in the event contact tracing would be needed. Dozier Field is marked with yard lines and it offered a particularly effective way for small groups to keep precise distancing from one another.
One of the organizers Lance Rothchild introduced the half dozen speakers and initiated the protest with a specific tribute to George Floyd, the man who was killed in a police interaction in Minneapolis last week.
“In solidarity with George Floyd and all the victims of police brutality, we will kneel for 8 minutes 46 seconds, the amount of time George Floyd’s neck was kneeled on until he died.”
Rothchild read a list of names of some of the men, women and children of color whose lives were taken by the police in recent years. He urged the mostly white crowd that complacency is the same as condoning racism. He told the crowd they have an obligation to society.
“Watching all the black, men, women and boys and girls are lynched before our eyes, we stand on the edge of the pit offering nothing but our thoughts and our prayers and hoe that someday the world will change. We must use our privilege to force real change.”
Emma Tang has younger brothers who are in the Park City School District and has become an activist in Colorado working on political campaigns. She was invited to speak and told the crowd the criticism of looting and violence during a protest is unfounded. She says looting and violence has been used as historical precedent.
“It’s always really important to acknowledge who came before us because every treaty the US has ever had with the native people has been broken. So, we really, we are sitting on stolen land and I think for the black folks who are leading the protest, looting is in their right because nobody ever really got anything done peacefully.
Her speech criticized the police force as an institution saying officers need more sensitivity training, background checks in domestic violence and gun usage education.
“Not being racist is not enough. We must actively call out racism. Racist should feel afraid and uncomfortable around you because they know you will call it out. You have the courage to call it out especially when it’s your friends and even more when it is your own family. Because you and I, we must protect black lives, constantly and consistently. Because white silence is violence.
Upcoming Junior Noam Levinsky has been interested in social justice and activism and is on the Park City High School Debate Team. He believes issues like white privilege and racism are issues society must deal with to stop the police brutality against black Americans.
“This was a new kind of activism. There was more activism happening in the country. People were starting to really be tired of being oppressed and I decided because of that because there was so much movement, now was the time to do something about it."
Levinsky says they organized a march down Main Street but with the weekend violence at other protest events, they worked with school administrators and the Park City Police Department and shifted venues at the last minute.
Utah State Senator Sandra Hollins is the first African American woman to serve in Utah’s legislature. She asked the crowd to put aside politics and work to bring about equal treatment from law enforcement and to stand in opposition when racism is observed.
The event can be found on KPCW’s Face book page.