Juneteenth also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day” is a holiday celebrated originally in Texas, but is now commemorated across the United States. Two and a half years later after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 which had officially abolished slavery, outlawing it in Texas, and the other states in uprising against the Union.
In Utah, Juneteenth was celebrated by a long march at Washington Square Park through downtown Salt Lake City by hundreds of protesters young and old chanting, “No justice! No Peace!” and “Black Lives Matter!” This is just one of the many protests not just nationwide but across the the world, sparked by the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer Derek Chauvin by kneeling on his neck for nearly eight minutes while two other officers further restrained Floyd and a fourth prevented onlookers and bystanders from interceding his death over an alleged counterfeit $20 dollar bill that Floyd used in buying groceries.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder. The other three officers were charged with assisting second-degree murder and manslaughter. However, J Alexander Kueng’s, 26 was released on Friday from Hannepin County Jail on $750,000 bail under “bond and conditional release.” Another officer, Thomas Lane, 37 was also released earlier this month on $750,000 bond.
During this event, Utah “Black Lives Matter” founder Lex Scott outlined some of the proposed bills on Capitol Hill regarding police reforms; the release of all body cam footage within ten days of all officer involved shootings, the rehiring of police officers after being fired, and the reallocation of police funding.
Juneteenth celebration in Salt Lake City, UT promoted community. The sense of political activism amongst young voters present during this event was incredible. According to Jonathan, a millennial activist from yesterday’s protest, some of the positive experiences he gained from attending the event was the energy the people brought, the live music, the spoken word poetry and the wide arrayed of inspiring speakers.
Juneteenth will always signify commemoration of freedom not just for black people, but for all people including Latino Lives, Gay Lives, Pacific Islander Lives, Indigenous Lives and Trans Lives who continue to fight against economic and racial inequality.