Over the weekend, anti-racism rallies and protests took place in Pottsville, Shenandoah, and Tamaqua in Schuylkill County.
We headed to the one in Pottsville Saturday afternoon and then another in Shenandoah on Sunday. Sorry, Tamaqua.
Each played out similarly:
- About 40 protestors attended each. (The Times-News says about 75 attended the one in Tamaqua.)
- People carried handmade signs.
- They shouted typical anti-racist protest chants.
The one in Shenandoah on Sunday actually had a handful of guys as counter-protestors. They wore red MAGA hats, except for the one who grabbed his red Houston Rockets hat instead. Ironic choice, that.
And outside of one short, heated exchange between one of those guys and a man who eventually spoke at the Shenandoah rally, each day went off without a hitch. No trouble. Very peaceful.
At each of the local rallies, instead of just limiting the activity to screaming and trying to induce honks from motorists passing by, people in attendance shared their personal stories on discrimination and racism living in Schuylkill County.
And at each, the names shouted strayed away from George Floyd to Luis Ramirez, who died on the streets of Shenandoah in 2008.
You can check out some of the images we captured at each below:
Anti-Racism Rally in Pottsville on Saturday
This was the second rally in 3 weeks in Pottsville. We were at the one back on May 31 (READ: ‘Freedom to Breathe’ George Floyd Protest in Pottsville Stays Civil). Saturday’s was about half the size of that rally last month.
But it did feature several speakers who talked about the personal experiences dealing with race relations or discrimination while living in Schuylkill County.
If you’re a Facebook user, you can check them out here:
Rally Against Racism Held in Shenandoah on Sunday
You can check out the video of the entire protest march and rally in Shenandoah on Sunday from The Shenandoah Sentinel:
Here are some shots of the Shenandoah rally on Sunday.
Remember, back in 2008, Luis Ramirez was killed on the streets of the borough and several young local residents were held accountable for that killing. The local police department at the time also was broken apart after it was revealed they participated in trying to cover up the killing.
So, if there’s a community that’s likely felt the sting of discriminatory justice, it’s Shenandoah above all others.
The borough is definitely the proverbial melting pot. Have all the ingredients tried to melt together?
Or are they all just individual ingredients floating around in a vat of broth? Are these protests bringing people together for a cause or are they further dividing the community and the nation?
Are People of Color Truly Targeted by Police? Or is Mainstream Media Creating a Race War?
But the one thing that keeps getting shouted at these protests locally and at ones nationwide is “Black Lives Matter!”
And apparently, they matter more than anyone else’s life right now.
Sorry, but we can’t get behind that idea whatsoever.
The real question from any of these protests is are they even protesting something real? Are black people unfairly treated by police locally or nationwide? Right now, this idea is all based off a short video clip of one incident in another state.
We won’t say that the people who spoke up at this weekend’s protests are lying. It’s very believable that they feel they were treated unfairly based on the way they look. That’s not right. It never is.
Systemic racism, however? Systemic brutality against people of color by the police?
If you watch the mainstream media news, you’d certainly say it was. Watching that news you’d think that cops are running around targeting black and brown people and just gunning them down in the streets for no reason at all.
You wouldn’t even think white people experience the same fate. But unless you only consume that news and don’t look around at your local community, you know that’s not true.
And that’s true nationwide.
Death By Police Gunfire by Race
Check out the chart above from left-leaning Statista.com, using data from the ultimate left-leaning news organization, The Washington Post.
It breaks down the number of people shot to death by police, by race, since 2017.
The numbers are very clear.
In 2020, so far, 172 white people were killed by police gunfire. And 88 black people got shot and killed by police. Another 57 Hispanic people died from a police officer’s gunshot.
You don’t hear about the 172. And you barely hear about the 57. Those videos aren’t looping endlessly on social media or the mainstream news. You don’t even get to find out if any of the killings were justified. You get a short clip of something that looks terrible and no context gets provided.
And the reason is simple: conflict sells.
Conflict is 1 of 7 key news values. It’s the juiciest, too. So the news plays it up for maximum impact. And with police violence, you’ve got plenty: white vs. black, police vs. civilians …
This is totally irresponsible though. Just look at the news locally these days. Police reports get crazier and include more violence than we can remember. Drugs are tearing apart the community as a whole, especially in places and among people who some would consider less fortunate financially.
Theft, squatting, slashings, gun violence … all on the rise, at least anecdotally. So these police officers are the ones trained and have sworn to respond to these incidents when people feel their safety’s been threatened.
If we’re going to carry one narrative from this is that a police officer’s job here in Schuylkill County is getting harder and more dangerous every day. Do they make mistakes from time to time? Surely. We all make mistakes. Would you want their job?
Whose Life Matters More?
The repeated chant at these protests locally is that Black Lives Matter. And they matter more than anyone else right now.
Sorry, that’s not true. But it may be too late. The narrative that black lives matter more than anyone else’s right now has been beaten in the brain of protestors.
You’re shouted down if you say otherwise. And it’s by people who’ve been swayed by what they see on TV and read on social media.
The truth is, all lives really do matter and not before anyone else’s life matters.