Last Saturday, a committed community activists came together in a sunny multi-purpose room to discuss a not-so-sunny subject: the killing of community members by law enforcement officers.
ACLU Action on Law Enforcement Abuse of Power
Among the attendees at Racially Just Utah’s “Police Accountability” dialogue were several Utahns who have had a loved one killed by a police officer. Friends of James Barker, shot and killed in January by a SLCPD officer in the Avenues, were present, as was his partner, Heidi Keilbaugh. A friend of Darrien Hunt, fatally shot by Saratoga Springs police last year. Friends and supporters of the family of Dillon Taylor, shot and killed outside a Salt Lake 7-11 one year ago.
And today, at the Capitol, members of the Interim Judiciary Committee of the Utah State Legislature are discussing the rules governing law enforcement use of force against community members – and whether those rules are clear enough.
From the streets to the Hill, many people in Utah are talking about this issue. From Baltimore to Ferguson to Cleveland, even more people across the country are talking, too.
As part of this passionate and important statewide conversation, I occasionally hear the following from upset Utahns: “What is the ACLU of Utah doing about this problem?”
Restraining police use of force and demanding accountability and reform for tactics that police use in our communities have been a central part of the ACLU of Utah’s work for many years.
We’ve ramped up that work in the past year in response to the tragic and disappointing spate fatal shootings by police officers in Utah – but our activities are often behind the scenes. Through our community educational efforts, lobbying and legal advocacy, we hope to amplify the voices of community members who are most impacted by law enforcement use of force and abuse of power.
To help our supporters better understand what kind of advocacy we’re engaged in – and what sort of support we want to offer grassroots groups – click here to read our statement and to learn more about our actions on the issue of law enforcement use of force and abuse of power (or you can download a copy at the bottom of this post).