‘Why I protest’: Who are the protesters in Utah?

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Protesters march near the Salt Lake City Police Department to protest the death of George Floyd during a rally Saturday, May 30, 2020, in Salt Lake City. Protests across the country have escalated over the death of George Floyd who died after being restrained by Minneapolis police officers on Memorial Day.(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – In the wake of the recent tragedy in Minneapolis where George Floyd, a black man was killed by police, crowds across the country are speaking out in anger in the form of protests. A protest, also known as a demonstration is a public expression of objection disapproval or dissent towards an idea or course of action, many times in a political stance.

Read: National Guard called after Salt Lake City protest erupts in vandalism, violence

One of the more historically known protests happened in 1963, with Martin Luther Kings’s March on Washington for jobs and freedom, which was a vital moment in the Civil Rights Movement.

Present-day, peacefully organized protests have filled the streets in major cities. On Saturday, May 30th demonstrators protested in Downtown Salt Lake City. The event organized by Utah against Police Brutality was dubbed “Car Caravan for Justice.” It started as a peaceful rally that became chaotic as the day progressed.

In Ogden on the same day, The Black Lives Matter Utah chapter held a demonstration that remained peaceful while calling for justice following the death of George Floyd. In the days that followed several other protests took place in places such as Park City, Southern Utah, and Provo, the unrest also continued in Salt Lake City with a more peaceful demonstration.

Read: ABC4 reporter injured during SLC protest: ‘I am ok’

ABC4 spoke with two protesters about why they decided to participate in the Salt Lake City protests. People say the events in Minneapolis may have caused protesters and individuals who have dealt with their own form of discrimination to get involved. 23-year-old Aiden Butcher works as a customer service representative and says he attended Monday’s protest to make his voice heard, stand up for what’s right and protect people who need it. Butcher tells ABC4 “this protest wasn’t my first but it’s the largest one I’ve been involved in.”

Aiden Butcher

Noah Cherry, a 29-year-old Black male from Murray attended Saturday’s Black Lives Matter demonstration in Ogden. Cherry tells ABC4 “it was not only the largest protest Ogden had ever seen but it was also so harmonious.” Like Butcher, Saturday’s protest wasn’t Cherry’s first demonstration experience. “it was when George W. Bush was in office, I was in middle school and I wanted to be apart of the cause” says Cherry.

Noah Cherry (on the right) at Ogden City Protests on May 30, 2020

While many across the country remain baffled and saddened about what took place that ultimately killed Mr. Floyd, Aiden Butcher said he has dealt with discrimination himself. “Because I’m transgender, and it’s been happening every day for the past 2 years.” It can be tough learning how to cope with being discriminated against, Butcher says. He directs his anger, and scared feelings by channeling it into positive energy with music, art, or community involvement helping others, Butcher adds.

Depending on what’s being protested and the climate of the demonstration, one’s experience could be positive or negative. Butcher tells ABC4 his experience at Monday’s SLC protest went well, but in a time of COVID-19 and social distancing guidelines, how safe can having so many people in one area be? “Everyone was wearing a mask, so I didn’t need to worry about the virus as much, it was also very peaceful which was nice,” said Butcher.

Read: Could this week’s protests threaten the state’s progress with COVID-19?

On Wednesday, all 4 officers involved in the death of George Floyd will face charges for their actions, but with many other incidents of injustice and discrimination, protesters may still wonder what more can be done. Black Lives Matter Organizer, Lex Scott has drafted a national police reform bill and started an online petition that she plans on taking to Washington D.C.

Read: Black Lives Matter Utah drafts national police reform bill after George Floyd’s death

Noah Cherry said “I have been compelled to protest more so recently than any other time of my life, something inside of my ignited not only after reading about and watching videos of our brothers and sisters dying in the hands of violence and an unjust system, but because I also saw myself being next.”

Tracy Smith
Curtis Booker, joined the ABC4 family in January of 2019 as a Digital Content Producer. In May of 2019, he transitioned into learning the inner workings of becoming a news producer assisting with various shows. Curtis most recently rejoined the Digital team as a multi-media journalist in February of 2020.

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