Rural America meets Black Lives Matter
Shows about the black lives matter protests that swept the nation after the police killing of George Floyd. We've talked about how the police responded to protesters. In major cities, the protests about the responses to the initial protests in those cities. We've talked about how governments are reforming police in those cities, but one thing we haven't really touched on is how this works in small towns, small towns where there maybe aren't that many black people, but that are still grappling with systemic racism towns like Bethel Ohio. That's all is a town that's about a forty five minute drive from Cincinnati Ohio. I think in some places people would think of it as like an expert, but from what everyone has told me it does not feel like that. It feels like a rural place. This is an Helen. Peterson cultural border for buzzfeed where she wrote about one fateful protests in Bethel, so the town proper is twenty seven hundred ish people. Outside of the small village line, there are more people who consider themselves residents of Bethel. And there's the village proper which is. Downtown area that has been there since their early nineteen th century. It has a bunch of churches. People say like there's about church per person, but a lot of other things have been pretty hollowed out like they used to be a normal grocery store, and now it's A. Discount Grocery Story. That doesn't have good produce. That sort of thing and there's a bunch of gun shops than pawnshops. In. Early June this substitute high school teacher at least Shuki was seeing that there were protests organized in small towns all around her. You one thing she said to me was like if hazard. Kentucky can advertise than week after protest, but she was very deliberate about thinking through. What kind of gathering that they wanted to have, they wanted to be a demonstration in solidarity of black lives matter. They wanted to think of it as as being a big tent to invite people who were all along the spectrum of defend the police to you know I just. I support working towards equality. They wanted to go beyond just the handful of people that she already knew would be interested from her personal circle, so she decided to post it on facebook page that has become a defacto community page since the local news has pretty much evaporated. And she's pretty scared about what would happen. And she waited until later at night, and then like posted some information about and then went to bed and woke up in the morning, and there were just a ton of. Messages and Comments about like we don't need that here. Like how dare you bring that here and a lot of it? I think it's less to do with what the message. Of the protest was going to be and more to do with what people had seen. Largely on Fox News about what these protests were, which were violent confide rations. This is just one of hundreds of businesses that were looted vandalized or set ablaze over the past week, the left psychotic so-called solution now to all the violence at all the anarchy, and all the lawlessness, and all the looting, and all the arson and violence is. Let's get rid of the police and so people. Perhaps logically given information that they had consumed thought that to have a black lives matter protests. Meant to destroy your small town. So they were saying. Do not bring this year and they also. There's a lot of assumptions salt lake. If you do have a protest, you have to import protesters or pay them. All of this is happening on facebook, so one of the people who gets really mad about the threat of a protest is a guy named Lonnie mead who has also grown up in Bethel. Went to high school with some of the people that were showing up to protest, and he started doing facebook live broadcasts. Asking people to show up to protect the tower aren't. At three o'clock, there's supposed to be bringing black lives. Matter I want to tell you right now. I, hope everybody that feels like me I hope we outnumber those people, a thousand one and not let that Shit happen here in our little town of Buffalo. On the actual day of the protest, June fourteenth, you have! A couple dozen protesters who have shown up thinking that it's GonNa be just a really docile, maybe even boring event where they stand on the corner, their signs for an hour. And you know maybe some people honked their horns at them or or even throw a soda, but nothing really happens, and then what they actually encountered when people arrived in the downtown area, the village where hundreds and hundreds of bikers. Nineteen. Talking Republican. So you have? Just standing with signs on one side, a couple dozen people, and then you have hundreds of bikers galleon. At racial slurs yelling like you know, all sorts of nasty things, go home ripping up signs on the other. About. A lot of bikers hived guns that they were carrying pretty openly. The Air Fifteen's large guns handguns. But other people just brought bats. Someone brought a bag full of bats. There was anger that you know these protesters. They decided to stand their ground. They were like we are just standing here with our science. We're not going to leave. It's really really difficult to watch I think especially anyone who grew up in a small town because it's just so easy to imagine that happening in your small town is just a dark dark energy. There's been a lot of criticism about how the police handled the situation because they essentially did not diffuse it in any meaningful way, but I honestly think that police were incredibly overwhelmed because they were. They're expecting again. You know a couple dozen people. Standing on the corner, holding signs and what ended up happening? With so much bigger. But. They did not intervene or arrest people who were tearing up sign. Not. Even obtained man who came and sucker punched this guy in the back of the skull, like did not arrest this guy, but police were standing right there and wash it, and you can see that on tape and I think too. Though when that happened, that was kind of like the point when the protesters were lake, we've been hearing hours to hung. People realize like. It could've gotten a lot darker at that moment. Can you paint a picture of what these protesters looked like I mean you hear a lot of racial slurs in the videos, but you don't really see any black people is a whole lot of white people. That's one of the things that you have to understand. You know in a lot of these small towns. They've worked hard to center. People of Color in the community and let them lead. Say like what matters to them. What the protest show looked like that sort of thing, but there's also a lot of places. Anything Bethel is one of them where there just aren't a lot of people of color. There actually was a woman who is black. Who was recording? And she was not there to be part of the protest. I think because she knew she would get menaced, so she actually was on the other side with the counter protesters, and so people started yelling the N. Word at her. A lot of people said afterwards. That the few people of Color in the community who may be witter showed up didn't really feel safe like they knew that maybe wouldn't be. The best place to be in you. Know turns out they were right. I mean considering small towns like Bethel are very white and. Only have a handful of people in the police force to begin with. Why is it important to focus on what's happening in these small towns and What they're protesters are saying. Well I think one thing that a lot of people have told me that makes this time. Feel different. Is that you know it's not just black? People who are saying black lives matter in the streets right? It is a whole lot of white people who are also saying this is something. This is an idea that I agree with a think that. Showing, how National Movement is that it's not a city thing. It's not a coastal thing. It's not a thing that is limited to black people or a certain class of people that is incredibly important to show just how widespread and popular for lack of a better word this movement is. How comparable is what happened in Basle on Sunday June? Fourteenth to what have happened in other small towns across the country as they've tried to organize around this movement. In some ways incredibly unique in terms of like exactly how many counter-protestors protesters showed up and the confrontation between them, but at the same time I think that it could have happened in many many many different towns. It could have easily happened in my hometown in Idaho where a thousand people showed up to protest, but the protest was in a park along the river, and all of the protectors were downtown. If they had been in the same space, it could have easily exploded. After the break I'll speak to someone who's been trying to bring people together to better understand black lives matter in Bethel. Sean Ramos Forum. It's today explained. Support for the show. Today comes from Babbel. That's B. A. B. B.. E. L. It's is here to help you. Pick up that language that you may be took for a year in high school or college, but then sort of cave up on fantasize about one day speaking. Maybe you dream that you really nailed French, but you know you wake up and you're confronted with the harsh reality that you're mostly limited to like a little way way here and there anyway babble can get you speaking like really speaking your dream language in weeks. Weeks got ten to fifteen minute. 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That's definitely background noise. Is! That your dog. As yeah, he's coughing. Hold on. Why don't we just have you start by saying? Your name and where you are and. Who you're canine friend is and all that stuff, sure absolutely my name is Rachel Lamb I am in Cincinnati while the outskirts of Cincinnati, Ohio and my dog of eighty ears. He just turned. Eight is named freedom My daughter of twelve years is named liberty so I have I have a theme going there. Okay so. So I mean. How close are you to Bethel? Clermont County is kind of an inner working of a bunch of small towns and. BETHEL is actually write him between Batavia where I live now. New Richmond where I grew up and went to high school. We intermingle a lot. We all pretty much. Know Each Other and. Have events together and Bethel is just kind of a part of my life and always has been. Someone, whose whole life is centered around this town? What is your impression of why the protest in Bethel on June fourteenth went so poorly? Some of the comments that seem to be. happening not just from places like Bethel and new Richmond, and Batavia here in Clermont County, but from rural America all over the place you see this attitude of Oh, you'd better not bring the protests or the looting and the rioting. To our town, we'll be ready for you. And that kind of became the the country bumpkin mantra. Because Small Town America is not familiar with the language of protests. Just because they don't happen there as often as they do in the big cities. They're not used to them. The two words riot and protest got conflated in people's head. So, what did you do? I had. Planned a barbecue style. Sit Down in the park. like I said the language of protests. They don't understand, but the language that they do. Understand is barbecues in the park community events. You at least have to have coffee and donuts. Patter far. It was it was morning? It wasn't really it wasn't an evening time dinner. Okay? When we say the word barbecue that basically just means get together. Eat some food, so we got a bunch of donuts from the donor place in bothell. We add hot coffee. We had we had snacks and we had water and we had invited anyone who wanted to come. Our idea was that we were just going to sit down and kind of hear why people felt the way they did. There's always some thought process to how this person got to. Saying all lives matter when people say black lives matter why. Why is that so important to you? And then we'll explain why black lives matter is so important to us. The only problem was that Bethel was still in a very raw state because of everything that happened and I think everyone looked very. Skeptically on our are learning them in with doughnuts. they thought that it was just going to be another yelling with bullhorns across the street. So what it ended up turning into is a bunch of. Black lives matter allies. Talking. About how we can have conversations in our family units in our friend units at our jobs if we hear or see. Racist things happening. To encourage people to start standing, up. To start calling that uncle or GRANDPA, four or friend that occasionally says. Racial slurs. So I think that particular protests on June fourteenth in Bethel as as almost anyone who sees the video would agree with was sort of exceptional and perhaps. Got Out of hand because of a lot of. Misinterpretation of what people were coming to Bethel to do that day, I wonder as someone who sort of initiated the conversations thereafter. What do you think is key to helping people? Think about what's going on right now. In the country in a in a new way, and not having sort of these hang-ups about what they think black lives, matter might be about from I. Don't know watching Fox. News and hearing a lot of talk about ANTIFA. Here's the thing about small towns one of the things that I heard so many times over and over again is. You're not from our town. GET, out you're, not, part of our community get out. And when someone said to them Hey, I've lived here twenty years I'm absolutely a part of this town. The the the way the tension and the anger just melts away is probably surprising to people, but the small town talking to small town idea that's what is going to work. It's a simple and obvious solution, but for some reason not used as often as it should be. We've been taught for semi years. If you WANNA, keep your friends. If you want to keep your family, don't talk about politics, religion or money raid. We've been bred to avoid difficult conversations. Have you had personal experience fostering progress by by talking in listening to your own family to your own? Neighbors in these small towns in Ohio, absolutely in my own family unit. My aunt and uncle are are very conservative socially. The first time that my partner was a black man I had to have a lot of difficult conversations with a lot of my family. Members that did not believe in an original dating. To. The one that really surprised me. The most was my grandma, my grandma. And GRANDPA GRANDPA specifically Racist and I shouldn't even try to sugar coat it. and. That's the thing is that we do that too often? We sugarcoat how bad it is because we love people. When my GRANDPA died, my grandma held onto a lot of those same opinions and I. Remember Her saying to me that my boyfriend would never be welcome in her home and. I looked at her and I said well. That's that's a real shame because I love him and I would think that you loving me and me loving him that you would be happy for me and I walked out on the porch awhile. And within ten minutes, she came outside crying. And said I do love you and I am happy for you, and I'm sorry. These these old ways are hard to kick but I'll. I'll give it my best if you WANNA. Bring them over and I'm not saying that every conversation would go that easily. Obviously, but when you put it out there and you stand up and you tell them that they're wrong and you tell them in a way. That involves hey, I love you, but but what you said was not the right thing to say or in friend groups. You know they came in. None of us. Say that kind of stuff. Why do you have to be like you know just just simple statements like that can can hang in a person's brain, and it can really make a big difference in possibly changing their mind. Rachel will thank you for having this conversation with me and I really. I really appreciate your time and. Give our regards to freedom and liberty. I absolutely well I appreciate you showing interest.