Elected officials gathered on the steps of the Utah State Capitol Monday night in a show of unity against racist demonstrations in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
Rep. Mia Love remembers the first job she ever had as a swim instructor to grade schoolers.
A young boy came up to her after the six-week course had ended and told her that he liked her even though his parents did not.
“So I prodded a little bit and I said, ‘Why wouldn’t your mom and dad like me?’ And he said ‘Because you’re black, and they think all black people are bad,'" she said.
Love said she learned from that experience that hatred is not only taught, but can be reversed.
“I’ll tell you, we can fight hatred,” she said. “No matter what’s happening out there, we’re standing together.”
Love was one of several speakers at the rally organized by the Utah GOP and Salt Lake County Republican Party after white nationalist demonstrations in Virginia caused shock and outrage across the country.
Despite being billed as a unity gathering, the event was not without its disrupters. One man held a sign referencing a white supremacist slogan, while another man shouted racist comments over some of the speakers.
Neither man would identify themselves to reporters.
In an emotional speech, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox said although racism persists in the United States, he believes people can change.
“We only change when we dare to get close to people that are different than us, and we only change when we dare to have uncomfortable conversations,” he said.
The rally was one of two held Monday night. Close to a thousand people gathered at the Salt Lake City and County building about an hour after the Utah GOP’s rally in a show of solidarity with people of color and other marginalized groups.