Letter: No reason for all those police at Lights for Liberty vigil

At last Friday evening’s Lights for Liberty vigil at the City and County Building, my family was surprised when, without explanation, we were cordoned off by steel barricades.

Around us, dozens of grim-faced police officers patrolled Washington Square on foot and bike. One man counted over 60 police officers. Attendees looked around nervously. Surrounded by the police, I did not feel more secure; I felt intimidated.

I understand that the police were justifiably concerned after the inland port protest earlier last week. But Friday’s vigil, highlighting the confinement of children at our southern border under inhumane and traumatizing conditions, was hardly controversial. Even so, on a balmy summer Salt Lake night, we experienced a disproportionate show of police force, ironically mirroring to a lesser degree the heavy-handed militarization at the border.

People peacefully protesting human rights violations should not be treated as potential criminals any more than children seeking asylum should be treated as criminals and held in jails. The presence of so many armed and uniformed police serves only to chill Utahns’ constitutional right to free expression.

Joanne Slotnik, Salt Lake City

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