SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – The NAACP Salt Lake Branch on Friday announced Utah as the first state to respond to the organization’s concerns and calls to action.
The association hosted a press conference at the Utah Capitol Building to discuss proposed legislation on police relationships with the community as well as broad goals for community discussion to address long-standing nationwide concerns, according to a statement from the NAACP.
Jeanetta Williams, the president of the NAACP Salt Lake Branch and the NAACP Tri-State Conference of Idaho-Nevada-Utah, said law enforcement and elected officials have responded to calls for sweeping police reform and federal legislation.
According to a national statement from the NAACP, the organization is calling for that legislation to mandate a “zero-tolerance approach in penalizing and/or prosecuting police officers who kill unarmed, non-violent, and resisting individuals in an arrest.”
The group is calling for the legislation to include the following principles:
Utah State Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-District 21, has sponsored bills related to three of the items on the list. Williams called for Democratic Utah legislators to sponsor the rest of the bills.
Thatcher, who spoke during Friday’s press conference, said he does not consider himself a leader when it comes to the bills he’s sponsored. Rather, he’s listening to the affected community and following their guidance.
“When the NAACP reaches out and asks you to support them,” he said, “the only acceptable answer is, ‘Yes.'”
State Attorney General Sean Reyes also spoke at the press conference, noting he is the first person of color to be elected to a statewide office in Utah.
He recounted growing up having mixed feelings about law enforcement, saying he recognized them for their work keeping the communities safe. But he said he also noticed how people of color he knew were often mistreated by police.
Williams asked protesters to do their part as well by completing the national census, registering to vote, and showing up at the polls.
This article will be updated