Black residents in Moab, Utah are enraged after a deputy was seen twirling a lasso while in search of a Black suspect, reports KSL.
Back in July, 35 minutes of body cam footage shows Deputy Amanda Edwards with a rope coiled in her hand as she pursued a homeless man who was accused of stealing sunglasses from a gift shop.
"Are you going to lasso him?" one observer asks.
"That was my plan, man," Edwards said in the video. "I mean, it's better than running, right?"
Another deputy questioned Edwards’ use of the rope in her pursuit of the suspect.
"That's going to look really bad if you use that,” said the other deputy.
"Better than a taser," Edwards responded.
As she passes by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, Edwards says, "I've been waiting for this moment for quite some time."
"I will corner him so you can rope him," the trooper responds.
"Appreciate it," she replies. "We just need to get him on the run, like, 'run, now.'"
After the search, Edwards said, "Dude, so many people took pictures of me with my rope."
"What are they going to say? It's not like I (expletive) anybody up with it,” she continued.
According to public records, Edwards later wrote in a report that she "replied to each individual in a joking manner" and did not actually expect to find the man.
Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP's Salt Lake branch said that any Black person that came across the deputy "could literally have a heart attack because they would flash back to the lynchings that went on.”
Rae Duckworth, operating chairwoman of Black Lives Matter Utah, agreed with Williams’assessment.
“This triggers generational trauma for me," Duckworth said as she fought through tears while watching the video. "That's what slave patrol does. And we're in 2022. And that's a comfortable slave patroller in my state."
Sheriff Steven White noted that an internal investigation was launched after a published picture of Edwards wielding the rope was discovered along with intel from other sheriffs in the department about the incident. He also mentioned that the deputy was disciplined but did not disclose any details about what disciplinary actions took place.
"I don't take that as joking," White said of his deputy's behavior. "It's about professionalism. You treat everybody the same. You treat everybody professionally. That's the way it should be."
White explained the deputy took responsibility for the incident and that he believed that her behavior wasn’t motivated by race.
"That's been part of the investigation," he said, "and there's no indications of any of that."
White said that sheriffs customarily carry ropes “in the event they need to round up stray livestock, tie down a load to their cars or rescue people in emergencies like floods,” in the rural county.
The disturbing video brings to memory the country’s long history of lynching Black people and the racism that still exists in law enforcement today
According to the latest census data, Grand County has a population of around 9,600 people—89% are white, 5% are American Indian and Alaska Native, and just 1% are Black.