Photos of a Marine standing outside the Utah State Capitol have gone viral amid ongoing protests in support of Black Lives Matter. Identified as Todd, the Utah Marine stood for more than three hours on Friday to show his support for the racial justice movement, KUTV reported. A photographer, Robin Pendergrastwas, able to capture the one-man demonstration in which the Marine decorated with two Marine Purple Hearts wore a thick piece of black tape across his mouth that read “I can’t breathe.”
The photos also depict Todd’s shoes melting from the severe heat in the city. In addition to the tape, he held a sign reading “Justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, and countless others…” A day prior to Todd’s demonstration thousands gathered at the Capitol in solidarity for the Black Lives Matter movement. In the wake of George Floyd’s murder on May 25, mass protests against police brutality and systemic racism have broken out in all 50 states of the U.S. in addition to major cities around the world.
Floyd was violently killed by a white officer in Minneapolis, who pressed his knees into Floyd’s neck while he relayed that he could not breathe and said: “My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts.” The horrific incident was shared in a viral video sparking outcries of police brutality.
Following protests worldwide, four officers involved in the incident have been charged. Derek Chauvin, the officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, faces charges of second-degree murder while three others who were present at the scene face charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, the Star Tribune reported.
While most applauded Todd for his act of solidarity, some on Twitter expressed hateful comments calling the Marine “unpatriotic” for his expressing his support—an unpopular and inaccurate opinion.
— Robert Maguire (@RobertMaguire_) June 7, 2020
Protests in Salt Lake City remain peaceful despite issues of police brutality and “disturbing” footage released from a body camera regarding the shooting of Bernardo Palacios-Carbajal on May 23. People gathered to honor both Floyd and Palacios Friday night, hours after Todd’s demonstration.
“We live in a country where even the worst of criminals get to go to court and get to fight for their rights,” Lorena Burciaga a protestor told KSL. “They claim that this is a country for freedom, yet they hate us for the way that we look, for the way that we talk, for the way that we are,” she continued. “They killed George (Floyd) in the most brutal way and they killed him in a very brutal way as well.”
“We want the system to change,” Burciaga added. “We don’t want the police to have so much power that they think they can kill whoever they want and get away with it. We are demanding justice and we want to see the police pay for what has happened.”