I found myself in Port Washington this evening to check out the scheduled BLM protest. Overall, it was a great display of Americans expressing themselves. It was peaceful and had some funny, some annoying, some touching, and some eye-rolling moments. There are a few pictures below, but here’s how it went down…
The BLM protest was scheduled from 6 PM to 9 PM. I was riding on my bike on the Interurban Trail and swung through downtown Port a little after 5 PM. There were several biker-looking guys getting American flags and a big banner out of their van. I asked about it and they said it was an All Lives Matter sign. They were planning to post somewhere along the route.
The plan for the BLM protest was to assemble at the Port Washington Veteran’s Memorial Park Bandshell at 6, then they would march through downtown for a while before returning to the Bandshell to wrap it up. When they started making speeches at about 6:20 (punctuality is clearly not a virtue to which they aspire), there were about 40 of them there. There were about 60 counter-protesters – some of whom were carrying firearms – assembled around. Some of the counter-protesters were standing close to the BLM folks and some were just standing back or sitting at picnic tables nearby. Additionally, there were several cars and motorcycles that kept driving by with American and/or Back the Blue flags flying.
Several of the BLM speakers then got up on stage and had their say. It was the normal stuff you would expect. Occasionally, some of the counter-protesters would shout out responses and the folks on stage jawed with them a bit. At one point, the counter-protesters broke out into the National Anthem. The BLM folks tried to shout them down by yelling “black lives matter” but gave up half way through.
After about 20 or 30 minutes of this, the BLM protesters set out on their march. They circled around the downtown a bit. Port Washington’s downtown is not very big. I sat and had an ice cream (caramel explosion in a waffle cone) and watched them go by a few times. Eventually they went back to the Bandshell. I walked over there and they were all kneeling, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. There seemed to be a few more of them, but most of the counter-protesters were making their way to the local eating and drinking establishments. I went on my way home.
A couple of things stood out to me. First, most of the BLM organizers were young, white, and female. They seemed to be more professional agitators than local aggrieved people. Maybe not, but that was my impression. There was one politician in there who referred to her constituents, but I couldn’t tell who it was. Second, I was really impressed by the Port Washington police. They were polite and professional to everyone. They didn’t interfere with anyone having their say but were visible. They were chatting with people on all sides. Really good work.
It was refreshing to see Americans having a public discussion.