The news these days is often depressing at worst and frustrating at best. It’s easy to get caught up in the spin cycle and let it get us down. Never fear… The News Blender has you covered. Once a week, we feature Something Good and, in return, all you have to do is tell us something good that has happened to you this week, something you are thankful for, a joke, a cute animal story, an inspiring tale of heroics, a Random Act of Kindness… SOMETHING good.
You may recall that, when I started doing this Sunday feature, I imposed a “no politics” rule, more on myself than anyone else. The entire point of TMSG was, after all, to escape from politics once a week. I’ve been doing this post for nearly 18 months and never deviated from that self-imposed rule, so I hope you forgive me when I break it today. Today’s Something Good isn’t precisely political but near enough. Still, I think it worthy to do a personal post on what I consider Something Good that happened yesterday.
Democracy is the topic of today’s post and I think we can all agree that is indeed something good.
Yesterday, I was informed very last minute that there was a protest honoring George Floyd planned in Greenville, county seat of my tiny, rural, very Trumpy county. This was news to me and I wanted to go – I’ve said so many times about protests, “I would, but it’s too far”. Well, this protest was less than 15 minutes away and I felt compelled to go, to do something. My daughter had to work, so that meant she couldn’t go. My hubby did not exactly approve of me going but I decided to go regardless. I’m not always brave about new things but I resolved to go, alone.
I’d never been to a protest before and had no idea, really, what to expect. There was worrisome talk of a counter protest, which meant men with guns and cosplay tactical gear, ready to protect the town from violence, looting, and vandalism. They were saying there would be “outside agitators” and were ready to back up the cops. If you sense my eyes rolling at all that, you would be reading it correctly.
Anyway, what I found was democracy in action. The protesters were entirely peaceful, unless you count a plentiful number of F bombs as non-peaceful and I do not. They stood, sincere, waving signs at passing cars. One interesting young man shouted “I love you” to the few people who shouted “boo” or “white lives matter”. He said he started out saying “Eff you, you blankity blanks” but realized that wasn’t right. He was there for love, not hate.
The news said about 150 people were present – I estimated maybe 200 so I wasn’t far off. All sorts were there… Young and old. Black and white. Squeaky clean kids and tatted up, pierced kids. Church people and, erm, definitely not church people. There were grandmothers and grandfathers. Moms, whose hearts were broken. Dads with black daughters, standing for them. There were at least two veterans, with signs saying they did not serve, did not lose brothers, to turn a blind eye to racism.
I believe everyone there was absolutely sincere and had no interest in violence, looting or vandalism. In fact, the organizer made the rounds and repeatedly said there should be no behavior that would make anyone have anything bad to say about the group. I saw no sign at all of “outside agitators”.
The turnout was much bigger than I expected, 150 in this county is a seriously big deal. I don’t know if there has ever been a protest like this in Darke County. It was an incredible thing, to be honest. There was a noticeable law enforcement presence – I am honestly not sure the local cops had ever dealt with a real protest – but they were unobtrusive and just hung out chatting with protesters from what I could see.
I didn’t get in any of the pictures that made it to the news and I’m pretty ok with that. The red arrow in that first picture points to my socially distanced position in the shade.
The group chanted – the names of victims, “I can’t breathe”, “no justice, no peace”, “black lives matter”, and so on. And while I was there, at least, that was as rowdy as it got.
One video I took…— No More Plato's Cave (@NoMorePlatosCav) June 6, 2020
At 4:00, we knelt in silence for eight long minutes in remembrance of George Floyd. It was profound and very emotional. The organizer said, “If those 8 minutes felt like an eternity to you, never forget that is how long a knee was kept on George’s neck.”
Eventually, the group marched around the traffic circle, up Broadway, and back. I decided to ere on the side of caution – I was there alone and really done physically – because I knew if anything were to happen between the protesters and the “guys with guns” (as they were referred to on our side of the street), it would be on the march. So I headed home. The newspaper account said there were a few “shouts” between the two groups but it was quickly broken up.
I’ve always voted and considered myself to utilize my rights granted to me as a citizen. But this… this was entirely outside my comfort zone. I was with an completely different group of people than I would normally hang out with, outside of Twitter. Once upon a time, I maligned these people. Wrongly. And I stood there more than a little ashamed.
They were good people. Sincere. Peaceful. And as much in possession of the concept of their Constitutional rights as people on the Right could ever be.
It felt like a moment, for lack of a better term. For there to be a protest in Greenville, Ohio, with 150 people showing up and the number of cars pushing back hugely outnumbered by the people honking, waving, giving a thumbs up or pumping a fist out the window in support is a big step for a place where Confederate flags are routinely flown. Dozens of cars indicated enthusiastic support but only a handful of cars flipped us off or angrily shouted “white lives matter” or the ever popular “boo” as they drove by.
I was proud to be a part of it, to have a small concrete action to take during such an important time. I may be close to 50 years old and consider myself to be knowledgeable about the concept of “We the People”, but these people gave me a lesson in being an American citizen I will never forget.
And, for the “pics or it didn’t happen” folks, here you go. I didn’t even have time to shower or do my hair. I hurriedly made my sign, threw a comfortable dress on, comfortable shoes (one of Shadowman’s friends on Twitter scared me a little by telling me I should dress with the idea of spending a night in a freezing jail cell in mind, so I eschewed fashion. In retrospect, I could have worn cute shoes at least!), put a headband over my bangs, and just went. I did wear a mask the entire time and tried to social distance by staying on the outer fringe as much as possible.
I am very glad I went – as one lady on Twitter told me about the protest she attended the day before, “I was kinda nervous and I felt uncomfortable. But, I guess that’s how it’s supposed feel. I’m so glad I went. I felt very emotional— sad, angry, proud, all at the same time.”
That sums up exactly how I felt and, maybe it sounds silly, but it was a life changing experience. I certainly came away with a heightened awareness of how precious our First Amendment rights are and how we all have a civic duty to protect them.
Democracy is Something Good. Thank you for putting up with my long-winded post – now it’s your turn, tell me something good!