Teens Organize Peaceful Protest In Heber
A peaceful protest was organized by a handful of Wasatch County teens who wanted to join the social movement and speak out against institutional racism and the tragic death of George Floyd. It was attended by more than 200 and the event highlighted personal experiences of racism and injustice.
All graduates of the Wasatch County High School, Janessa Judd, Nikelle Young, Lupita Menendez and Livie Jespersen organized the protest in just a week’s time. They had the support of Heber City Mayor Kelleen Potter and the Heber City Police Department. There were 200 to 300 people there, most were wearing masks and properly spaced in their own small groups.
Meda Del Carpio used to live in Heber and currently manages the Teen Council program in Park City and Wasatch County. She helped the group organize the speakers.
“I lived in Heber many years ago and the community definitely has a lot of work to do in matters of like race and racism. So it's awesome to see the community coming together. Im hoping that people are just receptive to the message that you know maybe because there is privilege and police brutality doesn’t personally affect them it effects other people and it's our reality for a lot of people of color.”
Organizer Lupita Menendez grew up in Heber. She read her poem that described what it was like as a child growing up afraid, watching her parents always be afraid.
“It is a child of color’s childhood to know about the color of their skin, It is a child of color’s childhood to know that the color of their skin defines how people treat them. It is a child of color’s childhood to fear hateful people harming them, or worse, harming their older and younger brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers.”
Natalie Pinkney is on the South Salt Lake City Council. She told the crowd her family hales from the Chicago area after they left the Jim Crow south and moved north as part of the Great Migration. She spoke of her family’s experience of trying to survive in a city where black families had no access to earning a living wage or sending their children to decent schools.
“My grandfather sold drugs to go by. And I know a lot of people are probably thinking well maybe you should go get a job. But see, when you’re a black man living in Chicago, you make $5.00 an hour with three kids or get paid $50.00 an hour with three kids.”
Pinkney said the system only allowed her grandfather to do things that were illegal. Her grandfather sold drugs and that allowed her father to go to a good high school and then go on to graduate from college.
“When it’s hard for you to get a job and people protest in the street, when they don’t want a black co-worker, when they turn you down for the color of your skin or where you live. What choices do you have? When our system doesn’t provide resources, what else can you do?”
Wasatch County Council Member Danny Goode said he and the council wanted to show support for the protest and provided water for the attendees.
“So, our position is, or at least my position is that we’re in support of everybody. We don’t want anyone to be discounted in our society. This is a larger societal issue. We all support good, honest policing.”
Heber resident Russell Lee said he was bored so he decided to check out the event. He said he supports the protest and hopes now, finally, changes will happen.
“It’s funny how far something has to go before people change. You know, which sitting on someone’s neck for that long on video. It has to get that absurd for someone to actually make a change. You know, now people are actually, it seems like something might actually happen.”
The protest in its entirety can be found on KPCW’s face book page. A slide show can be found on KPCW.org.