Utahns of all political stripes gathered at two rallies Monday to oppose racism.
“One Utah Rally for Unity” took place on the south steps of the Utah State Capitol. It was sponsored by the Utah Republican Party, Utah Democratic Party, Salt Lake County Republican Party, and the Utah GOP’s Buckshot Caucus. Down the street, the “Solidarity Rally: Anti-Racist, People of Color, Allies,” organized by the Utah League of Native American Voters, was held on the grounds of the Salt Lake City-County Building. Attendance was estimated at 200 and more than 1,000, respectively.
“Hatred is taught,” said Republican Congresswoman Mia Love. “It is taught, which means that we have to be an example. Last, but not least, where it is taught by being an example it can be reversed. It absolutely can be.” Love urged Utahns to be an example to the rest of the world. “Today can be our finest hour. We can stand here and no matter what’s happening in our country and around the world, we can stand as an example of what to be. We can stand as an example of light. I’ll tell you, we can fight hatred. No matter what’s happening out there, we’re standing together. I hope all of the media outlets take note that no one here is having a party affiliation. We’re all Utahns and we’re all Americans.”
With counter-protestors shouting, Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox had a strong message for white supremacists. “To those full of hate, we say this: We will defend your right to peaceably assemble and chant hateful words. We will allow you to do that because we do not fear you. We know that love will win, and words of love are truly the best words,” said Cox. “In the marketplace of ideas, yours have been tried, they failed, and they will fail again. A word of warning, if you move toward violence, justice will be swift and certain. Don’t make that mistake. To the rest of us, let’s lead with love. Let’s love those whose lives have been lost. Let’s even love those who have gotten so far off track. Let’s love this gentleman behind me.”
“It’s simple to me. Hate is un-American. Hate is anti-American, and those who perpetrate crimes and violence based on hate don’t deserve the noble title and privilege of being American” said Attorney General Sean Reyes, who spoke at both rallies. While he received a favorable response at the first rally, his remarks at the second rally were mostly drowned out by boos from the audience.
“Racism, sexism, and bigotry are evil. No equivocation, no qualifiers, no moral relativism, no excuses; it’s evil and needs to be condemned,” said Senator Daniel Thatcher (Republican – West Valley City), who also participated in both rallies. Concerning white supremacist protestors, he encouraged protectors to continue to fight. “The Constitution protects their right to say it. There is no way for the government to prevent speech, so it falls to us to stand up.” At the second rally, Thatcher told protesters he would work to overhaul Utah’s hate crimes laws.
Representative Angela Romero (Democrat – Salt Lake City) spoke about the notion that all can live the American Dream if they work hard enough and how that isn’t the reality for everyone. “This fundamental right is already void because of the systematic ‘isms. Growing up in Utah, growing up a woman of color, I felt that. Because of who we are, because of our ethnicity, our race, our gender, our gender identity, our sexual orientation, our religious beliefs, or our income. That is why we are here tonight; we want to make sure that we stand for everyone. We don’t want to just stand around and watch it go down. We don’t need to make America great again through hate and racist policies.”
“Whenever you’re asked to take a side, choose unity. Choose to make sure that you are not choosing hatred. Choose to stand up for what is right. Choose to be a Utahn and choose to be an American,” Love concluded.