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Local Activists Respond To A Week of Violence Nationwide

More people turned out for anti-police-brutality rallies in Salt Lake City over the weekend. Hundreds gathered at police headquarters twice on Saturday to vent their frustration over last week’s violence in Baton Rouge, St. Paul and Dallas. 

Activists called for greater diversity among police officers in the community with better skills for de-escalating potentially lethal encounters. 

The group Utah Against Police Brutality organized the gatherings before news broke Thursday that a sniper had killed five police officers in Dallas during an otherwise peaceful protest marking the deaths of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling. Lex Scott, the founder of Utah’s United Front Party was quick to distance Saturday’s protesters from the perpetrator in Dallas.

“We don’t shoot cops do we?” Scott said. “No! We don’t shoot cops. That guy that shot those cops can burn in hell. All that does is put a bigger target on our backs and ruin our movement.”

A handful of people had signs announcing support for Donald Trump. Tyler Johnson said he was participating not counter protesting.  He said he’s disgusted by what happened in Minnesota and Louisiana.

“Those cops should be prosecuted and tried and handled with and punished if that’s what’s happening,” Johnson said. “We can’t have people just snap and rush to judgement on either side.”

The crowd marched to the office of Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill shouting “Sim Gill has got to go”. They claimed Gill has withheld information on police brutality cases in Utah, including body camera footage of the shooting of Abdi Mohamed in the Rio Grande neighborhood.

Gill said he continues to advocate for transparency. 

“I have always said, everything should be released. The question becomes at what stage of the proceedings and if we have legal obligations and legal prohibitions, then we have to follow that law,” Gill said.

There was no visible law enforcement in attendance, although a couple of police officers on motorcycles followed the group as they marched through the streets. 

Whittney Evans grew up southern Ohio and has worked in public radio since 2005. She has a communications degree from Morehead State University in Morehead, Kentucky, where she learned the ropes of reporting, producing and hosting. Whittney moved to Utah in 2009 where she became a reporter, producer and morning host at KCPW. Her reporting ranges from the hyper-local issues affecting Salt Lake City residents, to state-wide issues of national interest. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the guitar and getting to know the breathtaking landscape of the Mountain West.
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