Photo credit: Jared Stanger
On August 25, 2020, the Facebook group Kenosha Guard hosted an event titled “Armed Citizens to Protect our Lives and Property” in Kenosha, Wisconsin. A post on the event asked, “Any patriots willing to take up arms and defend our city tonight from evil thugs?” and Kyle Rittenhouse and his assault rifle answered.
The event, which was organized in retaliation to the protests condemning the cold-blooded attempted murder of Jacob Blake, culminated with Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, firing his illegally acquired AR-15 into the crowd of peaceful protestors — murdering two people and critically injuring a third. He was not arrested until the next day, allowed to walk right past the police and travel back to his home state of Illinois.
Militia groups just like the Kenosha Guard have been appearing across the nation. Utah has seen its own share of these pop-up militia groups, one of the largest, which calls itself Utah Citizens’ Alarm, or “UCA,” has upwards of 15,000 members. The majority of these groups are made of white nationalists, angry and retaliating against the protests held to decry police brutality. This is of particular concern, as they pose a massive risk to our community. Without proper intervention, the risk of violence similar to what occurred in Kenosha grows by the day.
Before their Facebook page was removed for violating community guidelines, hundreds of threatening comments could be found on UCA posts, comments promising violence and death to protestors, chilling remarks such as, “run these no good terrorists over. why the hell are we putting up with this crap in this country. it’s time to start shooting these bastards,” from Dan Gotter; to direct threats of lynching from UCA member Ron Ward: “Hang em publicly”.
Utah Citizens’ Alarm and affiliated groups have been attending events across the state of Utah, armed and eager to instigate violence. They jeer at protestors and interrupt our speakers, barking hate and anger as we try to peacefully protest.
While the events crashed by UCA are innumerable, some are more noteworthy than others. The first event they counter-protested was in Provo, on June 29th — among their ranks were self-proclaimed Proud Boys (a far-right neo-fascist militia that was declared a hate group with ties to white nationalism by the FBI in 2018).
On August 3rd, UCA members made a particularly volatile appearance at a protest outside of the Cottonwood Heights Police Department, guns drawn and screaming in our faces, and then proceeded to stalk protestors to a vigil being held by Zane James’ friends to honor his life at Butler Park, right next to Impressions Preschool and Cottonwood Heights Middle School — where children were playing sports — strapped with their assault rifles and multiple magazines full of extra ammo.
The only thing that kept them from getting any closer to these children were protestors, putting themselves at great risk to protect those they did not even know.
Most recently, members have been aggressively disruptive at events in Salt Lake City. On the afternoon of August 30th, they showed up to “Power to the People: March to the Utah State Capitol” by Insurgence USA, and then the following day, to the event “Justice for Jacob Blake” held by the Salt Lake Equal Rights Movement.
Both of these peaceful events concluded early to avoid violence incited by members of these far-right militia groups and to ensure protestors were able to get home safely.
The similarities between Utah Citizens’ Alarm and the Kenosha Guard are glaringly obvious, and it seems to be only a matter of time before a member of UCA takes it upon themselves to shoot and kill protestors, no doubt emboldened by Kyle Rittenhouse’s heinous actions in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
These militias are violent hate groups, thinly veiling their racism and bloodlust behind the noble notion of “protecting their cities” — an ironic sentiment, considering they are the ones making our cities unsafe by spouting hate and waving their assault rifles around, while we are peacefully marching and organizing to condemn police brutality.
Why have racial justice protest numbers dwindled in the past few weeks? It is not a stretch to say it’s because of UCA and the fear they instill.
Intimidation in any sense is condemnable, but intimidation meant to - and succeeding in - curbing free speech, is especially heinous.
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Insurgence USA decided to hold a protest against police brutality and racial discrimination in Provo, Utah on June 29th, 2020. Our full intent was to go out and spread awareness. When we went out we decided to meet outside the Provo Police Station. There was also a Blue Lives Matter Rally happening at the same time. The organizer of that rally even said they were just doing a food drive and there would be no protesting. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
The Blue Lives Matter people were gathered together on the street with their big trucks, flying the Blue Lives Matter flags, and honking at us the entire time. There was no drive-by of food donations that day as we stood there facing them. Then, all of a sudden, they got in their trucks, turned around and left.
At that point, we started questioning:
Where did everybody go in such a rush? I knew that they were going to come back, and they all left at once. Were they going to come from behind our group? The way they left seemed systematically planned, with one car following behind the other.
Unfortunately, my assumption was right, but I did not see that until 20 to 30 minutes later. As we started to march down Center Street, the Blue Lives Matter people had gone home. But as I realized later, some only went home to change their cars or license plates, to make it look like they were different people.
You see, what they failed to realize is that you should remove your Blue Lives Matter sticker off the back of your bumper, if you’re going to try to pass as a different driver in a different car. I saw cars trying to run us over that were exactly the same as the ones at the Blue Lives Matter rally. There is no coincidence that those cars were trying to run us over in Provo; they went home, and traded their big-ass trucks in for minivans so that they could run us over!
But who actually showed up? Just the ambulance.
Where was the Provo Police Department when we needed them?
After marching up University Avenue, we came back to our meeting spot outside the Provo Police Station. We prepared to leave but were instead greeted by policemen in riot gear. The amount of time it took them to put on riot gear instead of coming to an emergency situation is baffling, to say the least, especially when people were trying to run over protesters with cars!
Now, the right-wing media would like to tell you a different narrative about the shooting, about how the protesters were trying to incite violence. That is completely inaccurate. We stated before, during, and after our protests that we came with peaceful intent to spread the message of unity and equality!
After that night, a group of racist white supremacists fabricated further rumors against us! They gained around 7,000 members in under 24 hours and now, just a couple of weeks later, have over 15,000 members in their Facebook group. This group, Utah Citizen’s Alarm, claims they are for peace and justice.
But they meet us at our protests with AR-15s and tactical gear as if we are terrorists. Their whole organization is built on propaganda and fear. They say our organization is led by a riot communist leader. The fact that they even built a petition around arresting our leader for doing nothing more than organizing a peaceful protest is sickening. The members of their organization are nothing less than morally unsound.
For anyone to say that I or Insurgence is against the United States of America is bullshit. I was training for the Olympics to represent my country for years. To say that my organization embodies those beliefs is just delusional. Unfortunately, it is easier to believe lies then it is to do the research yourself, to understand who someone really is. Casey, the leader of the racist Utah Citizens Alarm group, is nothing but a manipulative, white supremacist leader. He is a living example of everything that we are fighting against.
The members of his organization are sick. People within their community say that they will hang Black people from trees. They say they will go home, get their cars, and run people over in the streets. Perhaps it’s even out of curiosity, one member wanting to see if Black people bleed just like white people do. I guarantee you, we do.
I see no peacefulness in those comments. I see no peacefulness in using and manipulating my own brother to speak out against me. No real man that wants peace will go out of their way to create such conflict and contention between two groups or especially between family members.
If Casey and UCA were really about peacefulness and unity, they turn the other cheek just like Jesus did, and embrace the protesters and the causes we are fighting for.
I hope this provides everyone a little bit more insight into how the local media portrays Black people in our community as criminals, terrorists, and as riot communist leaders. They use it to suppress us by running with their own narrative.
Our country was not founded on the freedom of African-American People. Our country was built on racism and discrimination which we had to fight to overcome. Even after the Constitution supposedly gave us equal rights, we still had to fight for those rights. We are still fighting for those rights.
Passing laws does not erase racism within people’s hearts and minds. What happened in Provo only solidifies that statement and unveils it to our community’s eyes.
We still have so much work to do, and unfortunately, even the police department in Provo, Utah supports the systemic racism that we see today.
Open your motherfucking eyes! Climb out from underneath your goddamn couch where you hide and watch Netflix, and instead, see what is going on in this world. See what is going on inside your own community. And then do something to fix it.
Hold the drivers and the police responsible! Sign this petition: http://chng.it/HwRmm6ZPK6
I hope that you will join us on July 27th in Provo Utah:
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