LOGAN – A peaceful protest over the death of George Floyd came to Cache Valley on June 2.
“We’ve been here since 10 o’clock this morning,” said Chris Rojas, the self-appointed leader of the thoroughly impromptu demonstration, “to show that we believe that black lives matter and we want everybody to know it.”
A native of Oregon, Rojas now hails from Salt Lake City but has sentimental ties to Cache Valley.
“I’m a sound designer,” Rojas explained. “I first came here back in 2008 to study theater at Utah State … Even with everything that’s been happening, I thought that this place might still be pretty quiet and that’s not good.
“So I called some friends up here and told them to call some friends and here we are,” he added.
The mixed crowd of locals and visitors were demonstrating their frustration over the death of George Floyd, an African-American who died in police custody in Minneapolis a week ago. The arresting officer in that case, Derek Chauvin, has been fired and charged with homicide. Graphic cellphone footage of Floyd’s death has sparked outrage across the county, including rioting over the past weekend in Salt Lake City and a peaceful protest in Ogden.
The size of the gathering along Main Street in Logan ebbed and flowed throughout the day. The protesters displayed signs, some of them makeshift and others obviously pre-designed, calling for social justice and an end to violence. They encouraged passing motorists to honk and wave in support, which many did enthusiastically.
At the gathering’s peak in late afternoon, about 50 protesters lined the street in front of the Historic County Courthouse. There were plenty of masks in evidence, but they were surgical style, not disguises. Despite espousing the themes of the Black Lives Matter movement, the crowd was mostly white, mostly young and universally good natured.
“People have been great here,” said one of Rojas’ masked companions. “Nobody has given us any (trouble) … The Logan Chief of Police (Gary Jensen) even brought us pizza and drinks.
“One jerk came by on a bicycle and asked if we were terrorists,” he added. “We told him ‘duh’.”
The protesters also responded humorously to an occasional raised middle finger from passing motorists by flashing the peace sign and shouting of “We love you!”
Rojas said that there could be more protests in store for Cache Valley in the near future.
“I’ve heard that the real Black Lives Matter people down in Salt Lake are talking about coming up here on Saturday,” he advised. “That could be a little different.”