Brooks Bergmann is a Housing Focused Case Manager at The Road Home Salt Lake City, Utah.
In the wake of the brutal Nazi attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, Utahns gathered in downtown Salt Lake City. They condemned American fascists and racists, and called on people to fight back against the rise of right-wing terrorism and hate.
Moroni Benally, who organized the event with the Utah League of Native American Voters, told the crowd that he was saddened but not surprised by the events in Charlottesville, pointing out that people of color face attacks on their lives and communities almost daily. He asked the crowd to be “a bulwark against hate.”
Over 2000 people attended the August 14 event, held at Washington Square, despite a threatening rainstorm. Demonstrators carried signs that read “White silence = white violence,” “Make Nazis afraid,” and “End white supremacy!”
A number of speakers took to the stage to point out the long history of white supremacy in the U.S.
“The policies and actions that the U.S. has employed to oppress, exploit and murder Black and brown people living inside its borders have always been one of the greatest inspirations to fascists in every corner of the world,” said Ian De Oliveira, an organizer with Utah Against Police Brutality.
Speaker Brook Bergmann, with Students for a Democratic Society at the University of Utah, spoke to a recent incident where white supremacist posters were placed around the school’s student center. Bergman said that Students need to fight this type of provocation on their campuses.
Fifteen people joined U of U Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) outside the Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building, Aug. 27 2016, in solidarity with Palestine after the most recent attacks. The week before, over 50 airstrikes were launched in less than an hour by the apartheid state Israel against Gaza. The barrage was the worst since Operation Protective Edge in 2014 which killed over 2100 Palestinians.
The rally began with chants of “Viva viva Palestina!” and “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!” which drew in passers-by from the street.
Theresa Nielson, president of U of U Students for a Democratic Society , condemned the airstrikes as the continuation of the violence and terror that is at the foundation of the Israeli settler state and she called for an end to the billions in financial and military aid given to Israel.
Brooks Bergmann, also with SDS, spoke out against the imperialist intervention in the Middle East and called for support of Palestinian resistance. “The Palestinians have continued to fight for their right to self-determination and we are standing here in solidarity to say we will never accept the wall on the West Bank,” Bergmann said.
After Bergmann’s speech, Nielson led chants of “Money for jobs and education, not for war and occupation!”
Ian Decker of Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! covered the ongoing political repression of the Palestinian American activist Rasmea Odeh, who was unjustly convicted in 2014 for immigration fraud. In fact, she was a victim of torture and rape by Israeli interrogators in 1969, and her ongoing prosecution is an attempt to silence her.
Nancy Hansen, one of the several passers-by that joined the rally, commented that tax money should not be going to Israel, but instead to the local homeless shelters, where many people in Utah are in need of education and jobs.
Speakers and attendees also expressed solidarity with Palestinian hunger striker Bilal Kayed.
The vice president of U of U Students for a Democratic Society Sean Taylor, closed the rally, stating “The government that excuses police lynching, allows students to pile up mountains of debt, and weakens unions is the same government that supports Israel and bombs the Middle East,” they said. “We cannot expect the people who profit from our exploitation to suddenly grow a heart. We need to build organizations and struggle in the street.”