Community members clean up Utah Lake, start conversation about race

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Community members gathered at Sandy Beach by Utah Lake to pick up trash and start a conversation about racism on Saturday, June 13.

The event was organized by BYU student Emily Rees, who said she’d been feeling helpless the last few weeks and wanted to reach out to the community to accomplish something.

“I think I wasn’t the only one to feel like I couldn’t make a difference or like I wanted to see change and I couldn’t do anything about it. Other people were hurting and I couldn’t do anything about it,” Rees said.

She said she organized the event to bring people together to work on something and to perhaps provide a space to get people talking about racism and unrest.

People gathered on Sandy Beach starting around 9 a.m., and over the next couple hours, more and more people came to help. Rees and her friends provided gloves, masks and garbage bags to the volunteers.

While working, participants talked about a variety of different things. There was small talk about school and work as well as deeper conversations about privilege and racial tensions. The group happily worked together to move large pieces of trash as they talked.

Volunteers working together to carry large pieces of trash off the beach. (Emily Andersen)

“I hope that we can listen to each other today, I hope that we clean up a lot of trash, and I hope that we go back to our communities knowing that we’re not sideliners on this game of social change,” Rees said.

In a Facbook post after the event Rees thanked those than came to help, stating that 34 people showed up. The group also raised $60 for Campaign Zero, a research group devoted to ending police brutality.

“Communities are strong when they come together and showing up is how change happens. Words are important, but doing brings hope,” Rees said in the post.

After the event, Rees posted on Facebook that 34 people had shown up and that they raised $60 for Campaign Zero, which pushes for American police reform.

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