Salt Lake County, Utah (KUTV) — Leaders from the Utah Black Lives Matter movement are condemning the violence and vandalism at Saturday night’s protest in Salt Lake City.
They said the demonstration was not organized by Black Lives Matter, and does not represent what they stand for. The leaders in Utah have been clear, saying there can be no more violence.
“Tonight I hope that activists either stay home or hold a peaceful protest,” said Lex Scott, a founder of Black Lives Matter Utah.
Scott said the damage and violence seen in protests damages the reputation of the people working hard for actual change.
We have seen the damage in Salt Lake City. We have heard people blaming us for that damage. We have not seen people care about black lives, as much as they care about damage to buildings.
Scott said Saturday night there were thousands of people participating, but they have not seen thousands participate in their official movement.
“Destroying property and setting fires cannot be your only activism.”
In demonstrations across the country you will see posters, signs, shirts that say “Black Lives Matter.” Scott said it is more than a rallying cry for justice, it is an organization with official members in chapters across the country. To join, members here in Utah have to agree to not destroy property or incite violence.
“If we catch any members destroying property or inciting violence they will be removed from the chapter and I will testify against them myself,” said Scott.
Scott said they meet with Salt Lake City police every two weeks, and that they have made strides with de-escalation and implicit bias training, as well as using less than lethal weapons.
But Scott said there is still a lot of work to be done.
I can work with Salt Lake Police for three years, but what about Ogden police? They don’t have the same reforms. That’s why we need a national uniform police reform bill.
She said Black Lives Matter Utah is working to change that. She asked those that want to make a difference to sign their change.org petition, “We Want A Police Reform Bill Now.” She said they have half of the 100,000 signatures they need to take the bill to D.C.