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Protest against police killings ends peacefully on Las Vegas Strip

Updated April 17, 2021 - 10:40 pm

More than 100 people gathered under the lights of the Strip on Saturday night to protest recent police killings in the U.S. and the Clark County district attorney’s preliminary decision in the death of Jorge Gomez in Las Vegas.

“We’re taking it to the streets to be heard,” organizer Desiree Smith said. “We’re still here and we’re still angry, tired and upset.”

Smith and Leinati Hackley, organizers with More Than A Hashtag, said they’ve watched a year of laws enacted that didn’t change the system, so they’re returning to the street.

“It feels like nothing is going to change, but we don’t have to sit there and let the state dictate,” Smith said. “It starts with protesting.”

On Friday, a public review was held for the four officers who fatally shot Jorge Gomez outside a Black Lives Matter protest June 1 in downtown Las Vegas.

Police initially said Gomez was raising a gun at officers, but video released in February showed Gomez’s hands were empty as he ran away from police, who shot him 19 times.

Last month, the district attorney’s office made a “preliminary determination” that the shooting was justified. In the coming weeks, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson will make a final decision regarding the prosecution of the four officers.

The group also marched in solidarity with Chicago and Minnesota protesters in response to the fatal shootings of Adam Toledo, 13, and Daunte Wright, 20.

Leon Brooks, 24, of Las Vegas said they weren’t surprised by the ruling in Gomez’s review Friday.

“With these police unions they’re paid to hide evidence and protect cops,” Brooks said. “We’re seeing the same with Adam Toledo.”

Wright was fatally shot April 11 by a Brooklyn Center police officer, Kimberly Potter, during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, a suburb of Minneapolis.

Potter was later arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter. She was released on bail after her hearing Friday.

CNN reported at least 100 people were arrested Friday night after a sixth night of protests outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department.

Adam Toledo, 13, was shot by a Chicago police officer March 29. The Cook County state attorney’s office has not announced if the officer, Eric Stillman, will be charged.

Albi Smedley, 30, of Las Vegas, said she came to Saturday’s protest in solidarity as the founder of TransVegas.

“It’s just important to show support and solidarity to Black Lives Matter after these killings,” she said.

Zachary Santiwan, 22, of Las Vegas said he will come to as many protests as necessary when one group is being demeaned and criminalized.

“As long as there’s someone who has to suffer, I can’t sit back,” he said.

Riyonna McGee, 20, said she’s angry and sad that officers continue to shoot people of color.

“We just want to be treated equally,” she said.

McGee said she was frustrated by the result of the Gomez review because the district attorney’s office has neglected to prosecute.

“How is the family supposed to feel?” she said.” It’s so angering.”

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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