SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee quoted the pacifying words of an Ogden protest organizer during a Senate speech, leading to a friendly social media exchange and invitation to talk.
Malik Dayo, who help organize the “Take a Knee” rally in memory of George Floyd, said he was “extremely honored” that Lee chose to quote his words in “such a time of uncertainty and turmoil in our great country.”
“We can never lose hope in the goodness of one another as human beings. I promise you that I will continue to protest peacefully with honor and properly represent the state of Utah. I will always put the safety of the citizens first. Bless you for standing with the movement toward justice and equality,” Dayo posted on Facebook along with a video of Lee’s speech.
Lee, R-Utah, replied, “Thank you for your leadership, and like you said ‘we’re all part of the same community.’ Would love to sit down with you soon in Ogden.”
While violent protests broke out across the country, including in Salt Lake City last Saturday, hundreds of people peacefully gathered on the steps of the Ogden Municipal Building to honor Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody, and called for police reform.
“I wanna set the tone,” Dayo told the crowd from the start, according to the Standard-Examiner. “This is a peaceful protest. ... This is not an anti-cop rally. This is a solidarity rally. This is a rally for police reform.”
In his speech Wednesday, Lee quoted those words, saying protesters honored Floyd’s memory, condemned racism and called for policing reforms.
“But they also thanked the officers who were there, the same officers who were there protecting them and protecting their First Amendment rights to speak freely and gather peacefully,” he said.
Lee noted the crowd also recognized fallen Ogden police officer Nate Lyday, who was shot to death while answering a domestic violence call three days before the protest. Dayo considered postponing the protest because of the officer’s death.
We must all work to uphold justice for all. Both deaths last week show us just how far we have to go to achieve that goal. It is work that must be undertaken by each and every one of us. pic.twitter.com/IcpAfcCkoz— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) June 3, 2020
“We’re all part of the same community Dayo said of the police after the protest, and Dayo is right,” the senator said. “Nate Lyday’s loss is our loss. George Floyd’s loss is our loss.”
Lee said only by standing and working together in peaceful solidarity can the wounds of the nation heal.
“What the people of Ogden did this weekend is an example for us all, and it is a reason for hope,” Lee said.
After the rally, Dayo thanked people for participating.
“I appreciate the peaceful and loving unity and showing respect to the officers who were present during their time of mourning,” he wrote on Facebook. “I would argue to say that this is the most united Ogden has ever been as far as race is concerned. Let’s continue to lead by example as a city. Great job Ogden this is only the beginning of our journey.”