The owner at a tattoo shop is in some hot water after posting a photo of a white elephant gift one of his employees brought to a Christmas party that contained duct tape, rope, a knife, and lubricant.
In the post, owner David "Day" May said, "Dakota made a rape kit for white elephant" along with three laughing face emojis. The social media post spurred a small group of activists into action.
Protestors showed up and stood silently along a busy Salt Lake City street with duct tape over their mouths, red rope tied on their hands, some with tears in their eyes, and all holding signs with sexual abuse statistics for Utah.
The group stated they were protesting against Salt City Tattoo, whose owner had posted the controversial photo of the "rape kit". Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro is a co-organizer of the protest and she says she isn't surprised by the post.
"I’m kind of used to rape culture," she said. "It’s everywhere. I wish I could say I was shocked. I wasn’t." There were about twelve other activists gathered with Kyli to protest in front of the tattoo parlor at 353 E. 200 South in Salt Lake City.
The shop's owner has publicly apologized for the post in wake of the backlash, but Lesley Ann Shaw says an apology isn't enough. Shaw is a non-binary transgender and prefers to go referred to with the pronouns "they" and "them."
"This is how [rape culture] becomes normalized," Shaw said. "This was a work party, and not one person shut that down that night. The fact that there were even bystanders who didn’t do anything about it really just shows how normalized this conversation is."
The group protesting in front of the parlor hope to give the owner a wish list of suggestions they want to be implemented. These include sensitivity training, adopting a zero-tolerance policy for rape culture, and volunteering to help survivors of sexual abuse.
The tattoo shop's doors were locked and no one ever answered the door to receive the letter. Others such as Turner Bitton, executive director of the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, said the photo was likely just a "foolish example of dark humor."
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