A dynamic 17-year-old Black high school student in Utah organized a demonstration to protest the Stephon Clark shooting while also raising awareness about a local police killing.
Hundreds of people from diverse backgrounds gathered on Friday outside the public safety building in Salt Lake City to protest police excessive violence against people of color, KSTU-TV reported.
The protest was originally organized through Black Lives Matter Utah in response to the Sacramento police killing of Clark. Two officers gunned down the 22-year-old Black man in a hail of at least 20 shots in his grandmother’s backyard on March 18. The officers, who were responding to reports of someone breaking car windows, claimed that they believed he had a gun, which turned out to be a cellphone.
Saida Dahir, the teen who organized the rally, took the opportunity to bring people together around the police shooting of an apparently unarmed Black man on April 8 in a Utah suburb. She wanted the killing of Elijah Smith, 20, to start a conversation.
“Communities can bond over horrific tragedies like this one,” she said. “Bring people from different walks of life to come together to mourn the losses of people we have never met but we can connect and empathize with.”
Officers from the West Valley City Police Department responded to a call about a theft at a mobile phone business when they spotted Smith, who fit the suspect’s description. He ran away when the cops approached, according to the police report. They eventually cornered Smith when he entered a house, where they shot him dead. It wasn’t immediately clear whether Smith had a weapon or posed a threat to the police.
“Why couldn’t they shoot him in the leg? Why did they have to shoot him where it would kill him?” asked Ivan Ramirez, a close friend of Smith, who attended the rally.
A police investigation into the shooting is ongoing.