PROVO — The mass gathering of practically 1,000 folks in Utah’s third-largest metropolis Friday night time was not a protest.
Lots of these gathered held indicators that learn “Black lives matter” and “I can’t breathe,” whereas much more cheered for calls to finish police brutality. However whereas the gang might have protested the problems, they weren’t in Provo to name for a protest.
They had been there to name for unity.
As a result of Friday night time wasn’t about placing up partitions; it was about constructing bridges, mentioned group activist Israel “Izzy” Herring, a Utah Valley College scholar who’s a founding member of the activist group Unified Allies for Change.
“All we’re attempting to do is join the group,” Herring mentioned. “This isn’t a protest. We’re honoring and venerating the individuals who have died to police brutality.”
The primary feminine mayor of Provo was not towards Friday night time’s vigil. Actually, Michelle Kaufusi welcomed it. So, too, did Provo Metropolis Police Chief Wealthy Ferguson, who joined with police chiefs from each jurisdiction in Utah County, in addition to dozens of his personal officers within the peaceable occasion.
“That’s what we’re all about. We’re about peace and love,” Kaufusi mentioned. “Our motto is ‘welcome house’ — and I imply that.
“It’s an honor to be the mayor of this metropolis.”
There’s a motive why Provo was the place the place Unified Allies for Change wished to carry a vigil following per week of nationwide protests, together with many in Utah, in response to the dying of George Floyd within the custody of Minneapolis law enforcement officials, the newest in a protracted line of violence towards folks of shade.
“Provo can turn out to be and can turn out to be a beacon of sunshine and an exemplar to everybody round them,” founding member Sebastian Stewart-Johnson mentioned.
“At the moment, we will probably be unified. However we now have to do it collectively,” he added.
A number of notable residents of Utah Valley had been in attendance: becoming a member of Provo’s mayor was her son, NFL offensive lineman Corbin Kaufusi; Latter-day Saint musician Alex Boye; musician James Curran, previously often known as James the Mormon; and UVU president Astrid S. Tuminez.
The group held candles, a lot of them digital, and lit up cellphone flashlights in honor of the many individuals whose lives have been misplaced to police brutality. They stood in somber silence in reminiscence of the fallen. After all, a lot of them had been folks of shade, organizers mentioned. However all communities have been touched by too many violent acts echoed throughout America.
“There’s nothing that makes good cops madder than unhealthy cops,” mentioned Provo chief Ferguson, who reminds his officers on daily basis that the purpose is to retire with no day of tarnish on their badge. “Good cops in every single place come to work on daily basis, united in our targets. We’re right here to achieve the belief of our residents, and we attempt on daily basis to not do one thing that can put tarnish on our badge.”
Ferguson mentioned Provo law enforcement officials’ purpose is to offer “compassionate service” for his or her group, and whereas he realizes there’s at all times room for enchancment, he urged these in attendance to “come collectively” to resolve their issues.
“I recognize this peaceable gathering,” Ferguson mentioned. “It’s good for our group and it’s good for our state.
“We’re right here tonight as a result of we perceive how essential it’s that we hear, and that we be taught from one another. It’s extra essential now than ever.”
After the second of silence, the vigil ended with a “celebration of their lives,” within the type of a mini-concert from Boye. The British-American singer-actor carried out his single, “All of us bleed the identical,” a tune about equality, individuality and uniting throughout race, ethnicity, faith and different variations.
It’s these variations that enable people to make lovely music collectively, he mentioned.
“In case you play the piano simply through the use of the black keys, you may play a lot of the spirituals. And for those who play simply the white keys, you may play a bunch of Frank Sinatra songs,” Boye mentioned. “However while you play the black and the white keys collectively, that’s when some magic comes up. That’s why we want each one among you all.”
When Boye first learn an invite on social media to come back to a vigil — and one hosted on the police station — he stopped. That may’t be proper, he thought of.
However “I spent the final 15 minutes in that constructing,” Boye mentioned, pointing behind him to the Provo police station. “And I met a number of the most unimaginable males.
“One in every of them mentioned to me, ‘We’ve obtained your again.’ I believe that’s one thing that each black man would love to listen to. I want I had it recorded in order that I might put up it, and I might inform people who there are good cops right here. There are locations the place the helpers stay; they’re proper right here.”
Organizers ended the occasion by wishing blissful birthday to Breonna Taylor, the Louisville nurse who would have celebrated her 27th birthday Friday had been it not for her tragic dying when law enforcement officials broke down her door whereas performing a search warrant towards another person; she was shot her eight occasions in her condominium as her boyfriend confronted police.
“It’s not simply, and it’s not OK that her life was taken from us,” organizer Cole Stewart-Johnson mentioned. “She sacrificed her life on daily basis as an EMT.
“She gave her every thing to her group, to her household. And as we stand right here at present, and we memorialize and have a good time the lives of all those that have been taken, by racism, by police brutality, or no matter it might be, we are going to transfer ahead. We’ll take that mild with us.
“There are 1000’s — possibly even tens of millions — of people that have misplaced their lives that we don’t learn about. It isn’t acceptable. However thanks for displaying that you simply care.”
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