The Black Lives Matter Utah chapter hosted their first meeting in Ogden on Oct. 27 to create a new group for the area.
The event was held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Ogden. Organizers estimated there were more than 100 people in attendance.
BLM is a national organization founded after the controversial deaths of black men at the hands of police officers. Lex Scott, founder of the movement in Utah, began the meeting by discussing her history with the national group, which began with the protests in Ferguson after the officer-involved shooting of Michael Brown.
“We protested for eight hours a day, peacefully, but the media didn’t show you that,” Scott said.
Scott said the reason she came to Ogden to start a movement in the community is because she has been hearing that Ogden Police Department has been arresting more minorities and that the prison population has a lot of inmates from the Weber County area. As of this printing, these statistics are yet unverified.
Scott wants to work with the OPD to develop programs she said would help police stop profiling individuals.
The first step would be developing a program that shows the demographics of individuals that are arrested by the police department. The demographics would help the police department see whether or not they truly are arresting more people of color. Scott said she hopes the OPD will be receptive to the idea and that they’ll be transparent with the public by adding this information to their website.
Scott also said she would like to see the police department add a complaint button to their website, giving members of the community a way to voice their opinion.
Scott has previously worked with Salt Lake City Police to implement a similar program. She said it has been successful with their department.
“When Salt Lake City Police first started collecting the demographic data and posting it, we clearly saw that they were arresting more people of color than they thought they were,” Scott said. “Now we’re actually seeing a decline in the number of arrests for people of color.”
Scott also mentioned contacting administrators at Weber High School last week after several students posted a video showing them using a racial slur.
Scott said the principal was great to work with and that she was satisfied with the outcome from the situation. She gave this as an example of the work she does for the movement.
Scott expressed concern that she would have push back from members of the community who were not happy about the meeting. She received a Facebook comment on the event page earlier in the day she felt was a threat after the commenter suggested she could get ran over for protesting. One witness said they saw a man drive by a few times with a confederate flag on his vehicle.
Scott is planning to create a task force with the attendees who will meet with Ogden Police Department in two weeks.