The police and National Guard stood side-by-side as they watched the peaceful gathering from the State Capitol Building behind yellow tape. Thousands of protesters lined the space from the sidewalk down North State Street and across the majority of 300 North on June 4.

Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4.
Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4. Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

Hosted by the Salt Lake Equal Rights Movement, this particular protest started at 4:30 p.m. and ran until long past dark, remaining peaceful.

As the protest progressed into the evening hours, protesters pushed themselves close together to listen to speakers of color who lined up from the crowd to talk to the onlookers.

Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4.
Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4. Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

Many of the speakers identified themselves only by their first name for privacy.

“I’m grateful for these beautiful faces,” Jemema said. “One of the chief officers knelt for black people. One of the National Guard also knelt. His name was Mike.”

Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4.
Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4. Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

For many of the protesters, this was not their first time being at a protest in the past few days. Several of the speakers mentioned that they had been there for days at a time, some as many as a week, joining whatever peaceful protest had begun that day.

Several of the protesters were transplants or had come from other states to join in Salt Lake City’s protest.

Jessica, who is from the Ivory Coast, spoke of her younger brother and her fear for him when he leaves the house.

“I’m scared for him every day,” Jessica said.

Other protesters spoke about justice and wanting to change the system, calling for an end to police brutality and begging for new legislation.

Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4.
Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4. Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

“Only justice will bring peace,” Jay said. “Coming out here is what matters. Not a post.”

At the end of Jay’s speech, he asked for only the blacks in the crowd to chant “Black Lives Matter” and then for allies to chant alongside, causing an echo that reverberated across the lawn.

Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4.
Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4. Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

“I’m tired of asking which brother is going to die tomorrow,” Jemema said. “Which uncle or father or child is going to die tomorrow.”

As the speeches came to a close, a march began. The thousands of protesters walked and chanted down State Street and 500 South. Police escorted the procession down, blocking intersections for protesters to march through safely.

Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4.
Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4. Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

Organizers and bystanders, identifying themselves as protest medics, brought hundreds of bottles of water and snacks to hand out during the march. These were handed out at intervals and some walked the protest to keep an eye on those that might have a difficult time.

Others who were not a part of the original crowd saw the protest, went to convenience stores and grocery stores to buy bottled water and handed it out on street corners as the protest passed by.

Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4.
Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4. Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

Homeowners stood outside of their homes with raised hands and signs in support of the protesters. Cars stuck because of the march honked their support, some even parking and joining the walk.

Police and the National Guard lined streets, up and down the blocks, some with shields and others with other personal riot gear, lining streets and guiding protesters around the block. As protesters took a knee in front of them, several knelt alongside during the quiet moment.

Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4.
Supporters from all over Utah came to the Utah State Capitol protest on June 4. Photo credit: Sarah Earnshaw

The protesters continued up 300 North and back onto North State Street to the Capitol, led by a motorcycle procession, and police following them up the streets, blocking other streets as the protest went on into the late hours of the evening until they dispersed.

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