Guest opinion: Parkites must stand up for civil rights
We need change.
As I drive back up Parleys Canyon after an afternoon of standing up for civil rights and calling for an end to police brutality, a weight lifts off my shoulders and I begin to breathe a little easier. As I reenter my bubble of safety in Park City, we don’t have to worry about being violently attacked by police. In Park City, we don’t have to acknowledge the daily social injustices that plague the towns around us. In Park City, we embody the experience of privilege.
As I drive back to Park City my heart sinks into my stomach, for this privileged existence is serving as a blind ignorance to the injustices surrounding our quiet mountain town. There is a major civil rights movement going on and where are we?
In the weeks following the George Floyd death, there was a moment of conversation surrounding the demand for equality and an end to police brutality. On the Fourth of July, city leaders helped find our voice as a city and commissioned a mural for our beloved Main Street. Since then, we seem to have retreated back into our impermeable bubble of privilege where we seem to get more upset about murals than the underlying injustices we need to address. We need to lead. We need new laws. We need a complete shift in our culture. We need to participate.
Just because Salt Lake City and Utah media chooses to gloss over and hide the issues of police killings and racial injustice doesn’t mean that they don’t exist here. In fact, since 2015 there have been over 100 incidents of fatal police shootings. Of those, 45% have been people of color, though they only make up less than 30% of the population. In the decade that Sim Gill has been district attorney of Salt Lake County, only a handful of these cases were ruled “not justified.” Gill attributes this to the use of force parameters and qualified immunity set by legislation. If we want to see change we must go back and look at the statues that we’ve created as a society.
I know this community to be strong, caring and socially responsible, but where are you in your fight for social justice? Maybe you made a one-time donation to the ACLU, maybe you read a book on white privilege, maybe you talked to your kids. Now what?
I understand it can be hard to know where to start. What unique skills, expertise and training do you have and how can you leverage that for social good? Are you a writer? Write your legislator and elected officials demanding equality and an end to police brutality.
Are you unaware of the local violations of civil rights? Put your marching shoes on and come out to listen to the stories of those who have lost a loved one at the hands of police. Are you yourself a victim who is scared to speak out? Join others telling their stories as there is strength in numbers.
I’m asking that Park City as a community and as individuals leverage our voice, our intellect, our power and our privilege to support the fight for social justice. Of course we don’t have it all figured out — thank goodness that’s not a requirement for doing good. The world needs you and there is room for everyone in the fight to make change, at every stage. This battle is going to take all of us, winning a war always does.
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