US War Veteran Stages One-Man Protest Outside Utah State Capitol
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A US war veteran staged a one-man protest in Utah on Friday, donning his uniform and covering his mouth with a piece of tape that bore the words 'I can't breathe'.
Marine Corps veteran Todd Winn positioned himself outside the Utah State Capitol building in protest of George Floyd's death, and to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Braving the heat of Salt Lake City, where temperatures reportedly reached 99 degrees Fahrenheit, Winn remained in place for three hours. According to KUTV, it was so hot that his leather shoes began to melt.
Winn, who suffers chronic fatigue syndrome as a result of injuries he suffered while on duty in Iraq back in 2005, took the knee outside the government building, and held a sign that read: "Justice for: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice, countless others.
"Accountability for: Failed TTPs [Tactics, Techniques and Procedures], EOF [Escalation of Force] Abuse."
The retired marine told KUTV that he had taped his mouth shut to silence the voice he has as a veteran - one he says is a privileged voice.
He also said he hopes to magnify the voices of so many others by speaking out against brutality.
Despite the backlash he has faced for protesting in uniform, with many arguing that military personnel should not take sides on political issues, Winn stands by his decision - saying this was not a political matter, but a human one.
Winn explained: "That had a lot to do with my decision, to choose to do this in uniform.
"Really all I have to say to my fellow Marines and veterans is 'you're right'. What I did in a prescriptive sense was wrong. But I believe that morally and ethically it was the right decision to make."
Remembering the oath he took the day he was sworn into service, he added: "Support and defend the constitution. And there's no qualification on that. It's not until this time, or only for these people."
Winn said he wanted to make it clear he has no ill feelings towards the police, but backs the improvement of escalation of force, tactics training, and procedure.
"Having these incidents also puts good, conscientious police officers in danger," he continued.
"Because when you have officers acting out, not using their escalation force properly, abusing their authority, it causes more and more people to think, I think somewhat rightfully, to distrust the police."
Winn's girlfriend, Katie Steck, said that Friday had been a 'day of silence' for him, telling KSL-TV: "He has been very angered and appalled by the injustices that have been happening."
Steck explained how her partner had wanted to demonstrate how people can protest while still being patrotic to their country.
"Seeing a lot of things that have happened, that's not the kind of America he wants," she said.
"That's not what he wants to represent."