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Second Night Of Protests In Salt Lake City Mostly Peaceful As Mayor Sets Weeklong Curfew

Photo of a large crowd of people in protective face masks. Some are holding signs, some are holding their hands up.
Kelsie Moore for KUER
Peaceful protesters marched against police brutality from the City County building towards the Salt Lake City Public Safety building where the SLCPD and Fire Department are housed Monday night.

More than 1,000 protesters marched through the streets of Salt Lake City for the second time in three days, as a new citywide curfew went into effect and Gov. Gary Herbert declared a state of emergency because of civil unrest.

Rallying against police violence and calling for racial justice in response to the recent in-custody death of George Floyd, the demonstration remained mostly peaceful as one group of protesters walked the city streets to police headquarters and another headed to the Utah State Capitol. 

Photo of a woman in a red shirt and black pants speaking into a microphone she is holding.
Credit Kelsie Moore for KUER
Deja Gaston, a member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, helped lead the protest at Salt Lake City's Washington Square..

La’Troi Newbins of Salt Lake City helped lead the crowd, calling for justice and highlighting that this march was peaceful. He said he was disappointed to see what happened during the city’s first protest..

“Saturday was a mockery,” he said of a protest over the weekend that later turned violent and destructive. “We’re here for peace. But the real message is, ‘What is going to happen for George Floyd? That’s the whole message. What are they going to do about the officer who murdered him?”

The latest protest comes as similar demonstrations in scores of U.S. cities roiled the country and police forces cracked down on curfew violations and faced off with demonstrators. Salt Lake City’s curfew and the governor’s declared state of emergency coincided with a threat from President Donald Trump that if state and local officials didn’t do more to stop the violence and looting in American cities, he would deploy federal troops to achieve that end.

Monday’s march began just hours after Salt Lake City Mayor Mendenhall enacted a weeklong citywide curfew, 14 hours after the previous curfew ended. It is in effect nightly from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. through Monday morning, June 8. Herbert declared a state of emergency due to civil unrest that closed the State Capitol Complex to the public through Saturday, June 6 at 11:59 p.m.. 

Photo of a line of police officers in front of a government building.
Credit Kelsie Moore for KUER
Police officers guard the Salt Lake City Public Safety building.

“I love our city, and I am so proud of our officers and thankful to the protesters tonight,” Mendenhall tweeted Monday. “There is hurt. There is anger. But there can be progress. I believe that. And I am committed to doing this work together.”

The mayor’s decision to establish the new curfew was made in consultation with Salt Lake City Police Chief Mike Brown and Herbert, officials said in a statement. It remains in effect until 6 a.m. Monday. 

“It is with a heavy heart that we enact another curfew,” Brown said in the statement. “I hope and pray it is the last and that we can do the hard work of building a better city together.”

Starting around 6 p.m. at Washington Square near the Salt Lake City and County Building, protesters marched past the City Library to Salt Lake City police headquarters where they were met by a line of waiting officers. 

Following a developing trend in other major cities, protesters chanted for police to “Kneel with us!” One police officer did just that, making them a deal: “If I take a knee, you have to remain peaceful.”

Photo of a crowd of people kneeling with fists lifted in the air.
Credit Kelsie Moore for KUER
Shouting "I can't breathe!" protesters lifted their fists in the air, a historic symbol of solidarity and Black power.

The protest was held by the Party for Socialism and Liberation. Amaal, who asked that her last name not be used for safety reasons, helped set up the event. She said the key to seeing real change comes down to one thing.

“Get organized,” Amaal said. “We’re not outnumbered, we’re not out skilled, we’re just out organized. And the minute we start to realize that change will truly start to happen. Look what’s happening across the country. People got together, started to organize, our needs started to be met.”

Photo of a tan Hummer with spidered windows and a crowd of people filing past with signs that say things like "Black lives matter more than white feelings."
Credit Kelsie Moore for KUER
Protesters booed after someone smashed the windows of a National Guard Hummer. They said they were focused on keeping the event peaceful.

The protests stayed peaceful except for one incident in which a man with a golf club bashed two windows of a National Guard vehicle. Police said one protester carrying a loaded handgun was arrested.

Herbert’s emergency order, which follows his activation of the National Guard on Saturday, went into effect Monday and will continue until 11:59 p.m. the following Saturday. Official State business will continue at the Capitol building throughout the closure. The building has been closed to the public since March 14 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Ross Terrell is the managing editor at KUER.
Jon reports on quality of life issues, education and the economy
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