‘This Isn’t A Rodeo’, Utah Deputy Sparks Backlash For Twirling Lasso While Pursuing Black Man
A white Utah deputy’s decision to use a lasso rope while searching for a Black male suspect has sparked upset from the Black community.
Deputy Amanda Edwards is under fire for July bodycam footage that revealed her on-foot pursuit of a Black homeless man wanted for stealing sunglasses from a gift shop on Moab’s Main Street, KSL reports. The video shows Edwards coiling the rope in her hand or twirling it in the air in front of her.
Observers questioned Edwards, asking what she was up to. In an upbeat tone, the deputy told concerned witnesses that she was searching for an African American man.
“Are you going to lasso him?” one observer asks.
“That was my plan, man,” the deputy says in response. “I mean, it’s better than running, right?”
Video shows Edwards jumping on trash cans to look over a fence, running around a parking lot, and whistling the tune of “Tom’s Diner” by Suzanne Vega during her pursuit. At one point, she bumps into a fellow deputy who tells her,
“That’s going to look really bad, if you use that.”
“Better than a Taser,” Edwards replied.
When passing by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper, Edwards expressed her excitement in pursuing the suspect with her lasso.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for quite some time,” she said.
At the end of her search, Edwards tells a colleague about all the reactions to her using the lasso.
“Dude, so many people took pictures of me with my rope,” she said. “What are they going to say? It’s not like I (expletive) anybody up with it.”
Members of the Black community have since called out the July 10 incident that produced no results.
Jeanetta Williams, president of the NAACP’s Salt Lake branch, explained why it was good that no one saw Edwards arrest the suspect. They “could literally have a heart attack because they would flash back to the lynchings that went on,” Williams said.
“This isn’t a rodeo, and this is no way to apprehend a human being.”
Mario Mathis, an organizer with Black Lives Matter, shamed Edwards’ actions for similarity to past stories of racism and lynching against African Americans.
“If you don’t know that you, as a white woman, picking up a rope to go after a Black man, is the wrong damn thing to do, you should be fired,” Mathis said.
Sheriff Steven White confirmed an investigation was launched, and Edwards faced discipline. 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 during her pursuit.
“I don’t take that as joking,” White said of Edwards’ behavior. “It’s about professionalism. You treat everybody the same. You treat everybody professionally. That’s the way it should be.”