SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Tuesday marked one year since George Floyd was murdered by a former Minneapolis police officer. His death was captured in the video seen around the world, as he uttered his final words, “I can’t breathe.” The event brought millions of people out to protest in his name, including right here in Utah. Most of the demonstrations were peaceful, but some became violent and destructive.
It pushed leaders in communities throughout the country to have that difficult discussion and take action around police reform and racial justice. During the past legislative session, several bills were passed into law to improve policing in the state and country. But activists say there is still more work to be done.
Lex Scott, organizer of Black Lives Matter Utah, joined ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen for an IN FOCUS discussion to reflect on the events during the past year. She talked about her initial feelings when she found out about Floyd’s murder, her thoughts about the May 30th riot in downtown Salt Lake City, why there was so much anxiety surrounding the verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, her reaction to the number of police reform bills passed this legislative session, what her organization did on Floyd’s one-year death anniversary, whether there were more people who joined the movement since his death, and the work that still needs to be done in the fight for racial justice.
Dr. LaShawn Williams, assistant professor of social work at Utah Valley University, discussed why Floyd’s death led to such an enormous response compared to other fatal police incidents in the past, why she thinks so many people joined the movement as first-time activists, the international demonstrations, the events that took place in Minneapolis in April such as Chauvin’s trial and the fatal police shooting that killed Daunte Wright, and what she hopes to see next in the nationwide conversations about police reform and racial justice.
Chris Burbank, vice president of strategy at the Center for Policing Equity and former chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department, shared his initial reaction to Floyd’s murder, his thoughts about officers using moving violations to pull someone over for a bigger reason, the work that still needs to be done in police reform, how he feels about qualified immunity, and what the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death meant to him.
To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Scott, Dr. Williams, and Burbank, click on the video at the top of the article.
Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.