Demonstrations and vigils in the nation’s smaller cities and towns show public support for Black Lives Matter and law-enforcement reforms.
As America enters its second week of protests over the murder of George Floyd and police brutality, the demonstrations have spread to all 50 states, according to CNN.
While the bulk of footage from the protests comes from major cities like Minneapolis, where Floyd was killed by a police officer, New York or Washington, D.C., many rural parts of the country have seen people congregating to show their solidarity with Floyd’s family and the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Daily Yonder looked at social media posts and asked friends across the country to share with us the situation on the ground in their communities. Here’s a roundup representing only a fraction of events across rural America.
Harlan, Kentucky, saw an impressive turnout, with people lining the street with signs of support for the Black Lives Matter movement. According to Ohio Valley ReSource reporter Sydney Boles, at least 100 people took part in the demonstration.
— Sydney Boles (@sydneyboles) June 2, 2020
In Newark, Ohio, a small city east of Columbus, the young people showed their support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Bryn Bird from Granville, Ohio, attended the rally in Newark to show her support, but also because of rumors about potential skirmishes between militia forces and “Antifa buses,” according to local social media posts.
Heavily armed militia members from Marietta, Ohio, attended the rally, also concerned about potential Antifa violence. Bird said that Marietta militia members assured the Black Lives Matter they were there to protect the protesters from Antifa. There were no confrontations between protesters and militia members, and the event concluded with friendly conversation between both groups
The rumors about Antifa protesters being bussed into suburban and rural areas have been bubbling up across the internet in the last couple days, but so far no confirmed instances have surfaced.
RuralOrganizing.org has been tracking and identifying sources of these false claims. According to the organization, one such misinformation campaign lead Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota to mobilize the National Guard in Sioux Falls.
Through our network, we have identified a number of “false flag” misinformation campaigns in small metro and rural communities across the country. Please let us know if you are seeing this in your community! https://t.co/PBMYotv35q pic.twitter.com/ER34OEtIJU
— RuralOrganizing.org (@RuralOrganizing) June 2, 2020
The town of Millerton (population about 1,000), New York, had a single Black Lives Matter protester, as seen in this Twitter post.
— Krista Scenna (@bespokecurator) June 3, 2020
In another eastern Kentucky city, Pikeville (population 6,900), organizers called their event a rally for public grief to help heal racism, as opposed to a protest. Police joined the event, according to WYMT television. “We wanna be down there for the people,” said Pikeville Police Chief Chris Edmonds. “We just want to do it peacefully and have a great gathering down there with them.”
Across the state line in Huntington, West Virginia, a peaceful gathering occurred in Ritter Park, on May 30. The event and others in West Virginia were covered by WestVirginiaVille.com. Huntington is the market center of a small metropolitan area that includes Ashland, Kentucky, and Ironton, Ohio.
In the small Montana city of Great Falls, reporter Nora Marble of the Great Falls Tribune reported on the reaction of American Indians to the national reaction to the death of George Floyd. Indian Education for All Instructional Coach Jordann Lankford said that while the growing movement provides an opportunity to discuss inequity, she is disappointed that other minorities have been excluded from the dialogue.
“I fear people in Montana will see these things and see the riots and think, ‘Well, that really doesn’t affect Montana because we don’t have a big Black population here.’ But it’s not just a Black and white issue – racial inequity affects all minority groups, and it needs to be an open dialogue, including everyone,” she said.
About 50 people are gathered outside of Whitefish City Hall right now, peacefully protesting the recent killing of #GeorgeFloyd. According to one protestor, people started assembling with various signage supporting the #blacklivesmatter movement around 5 p.m. #mtnews pic.twitter.com/lx24ix9yd4
— Kianna Gardner (@KiaGardner) June 3, 2020
The town of Gunnison, Colorado, with a population of less than 6,000 saw a turnout of several hundred people for the protest on June 2.
— Nick Bowlin (@npbowlin) June 2, 2020
In the northern California city of Arcata in Humboldt County, about 200 people gathered Monday to march through downtown, as documented by Andrew Goff in the Lost Coast Outpost.
In Roseburg, Oregon, the seat of rural Douglas County, the community saw around 170 people gathered to protest the police brutality. According to reporting from 16KTMR, “Roseburg was able to stay peaceful. Roseburg police did show up and interacted with the protesters.”
And in Hawaii, HawaiiNewsNow reported widespread vigils, including the rural Big Island.
— Honolulu Police (@honolulupolice) June 2, 2020
This article was originally published by The Daily Yonder.
Additional reporting: Mary Sketch, Marty Newell, Joel Cohen and Bryce Oates