For the majority of us, fines and jail time await if we violate the law. The now-slightly infamous Capitol 13 were jailed for blocking the Utah Senate door while protesting to support a nondiscrimination bill. We all know what happened to Tim DeChristopher when he bid on public lands without the cash to buy them. Now come a huffy bunch of squatters from San Juan County, toting guns and revving up their ATVs like it’s some right of passage. They want to do what they want to do on Bureau of Land Management lands, even as Native American tribes complain of yet another “gesture of disrepect,” according to The Salt Lake Tribune. But Utah’s governor, as he did in the Cliven Bundy confrontation, just asked everyone to play nice. The lesson: if you want to break the law, carry a gun and threaten violence.
Salt Lake City seems convinced that high-rise living is the only way to go—and grow. Yes, it’s a lot about tax revenue. But what is happening in Sugar House is nothing less than the death of a community. Mayor Ralph Becker thinks it’s more important for tall buildings to line the streetcar route in an effort to continue the urbanization of the city. Meanwhile, the community gardens sitting near the Boys & Girls Club got the boot when the city made accessing water there impossible. It then contracted with Wasatch Community Gardens, which was ill-equipped and apparently unwilling to help the gardeners. Make way now for more big buildings and less open space.
Maybe it’s an exercise in futility, but it’s a futile exercise worth doing. Two young women—Brittany Plothow and Erin Page—organized a rally at the Capitol to raise awareness about 276 Nigerian schoolgirls who were kidnapped in April. It started with Twitter and the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, but it has grown into international anguish over the treatment of girls and women in general. Sold as wives and into slavery? Denied an education? Too many cultures condone this kind of treatment of half of the world’s population. First lady Michelle Obama is tweeting her disdain, and now Utah has joined the call for action, although the Deseret News appears to be the only local newspaper to cover it. No, tweeting is not action, but it does create pressure and, as we’ve seen in foreign countries, can effect change. If someone pays attention.