Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Here in the Cincinnati/NKY area, there have been Black Lives Matter protests in places I never thought I would see, places like Hazard, KY and even right here in Florence and Fort Mitchell.  But as peaceful protests continue nationwide, armed counter-protesters are starting to show up in smaller towns like Bethel, Ohio making sure that Black Lives are not only going unrecognized as worthy, but as human.

Clashes erupted between groups during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Bethel on Sunday afternoon when counter-protesters rushed the demonstrators on Sunday afternoon. 
Multiple people captured the events in videos that were later posted to Facebook.

Village officials say motorcycle gangs, back the blue organizations, and Second Amendment advocates tried disrupting the Black Lives Matter protest. 
Alicia Gee, a 36-year-old substitute teacher, was inspired to hold the demonstration after seeing an Instagram post about a similar event in Hazard, Kentucky. 
"I guess in my mind, we only think about protests happening in the city. I've always gone to cities to protest. And then to see that something was happening in Hazard – I was like, if Hazard, Kentucky can have a protest, Bethel can have something," Gee said. 
Gee, who has lived in Bethel her whole life, is a member of an artist collective, with 15 other people that became her co-organizers for the demonstration. 
Gee is adamant that the event was not about protesting anything, but rather a demonstration of solidarity with the Black community. This was her first time planning a demonstration, though she had experience with event planning as a former children's minister.

Gee created an event page on Facebook on Tuesday, thinking she'd be pleased if 50 people showed up. 
On Saturday night, she went out to the Plane Street to draw X's on the sidewalk so that demonstrators could remain six feet apart and follow federal social distancing guidelines.

It started out pleasant enough.

Then the assholes with the guns showed up.

The Bethel Police Department is investigating about 10 incidents that stemmed from a clash between counter-protesters and a Black Lives Matter march on Sunday including a protester being punched in the back of the head. 
Police officials said the group Bethel’s Solidarity with Black Lives Demonstration worked with police for several days to coordinate the event on Plane Street. According to a statement, police said they expected 20 to 25 people. 
More protesters than expected showed up bringing the total to between 80 and 100 people, then counter-protesters began making their way to Bethel as well. 
"These groups included several motorcycle gangs, back the blue groups, and second amendment advocates," Bethel officials said in the statement. 
The crowd swelled to around 800 people, police estimated, included about 250 on motorcycles. 
The entirety of Bethel's police force, six officers, were at the event monitoring the situation and attempting to keep the groups separated and peaceful. A group of Clermont County Sheriff Deputies who planned to staff the event as well were called away, leaving only one additional deputy to help. 
More sheriff's deputies would arrive later as the conflicts escalated. 
"Towards the latter part of the event, the various other groups began to move toward the Bethel’s Solidarity with Black Lives Demonstration area," the statement said. "This resulted in approximately 10 incidents. Those involved were removed from the scene and there are ongoing investigations concerning those incidents." 
Anyone who can possibly identify suspects or was a victim during the incidents on Sunday is being encouraged to contact the Bethel Police Department.

The more things change...

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