Banners block the entrance gate as demonstrators gather outside the governor's residence Friday, July 8, 2016, in St. Paul, Minn., where protests continue over the shooting death by police of Philando Castile after a traffic stop Wednesday, July 6, in Falcon Heights. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
We tend to think of protests at urban phenomena. That makes sense for a couple of different reasons. First, the media grossly overreports what happens in cities over small towns. But there’s also a history of protests in more populated areas.
The recent protests surrounding the death of George Floyd at the hands of an overzealous police officer have become more than a city thing. They’ve spread into small towns, where people of all stripes have come together to make a stand against racism.
In small towns, these protests take on a totally different character. The phrase “largely peaceful” that the mainstream media like to attach to the protests that get violent actually applies at these events. There are no Antifa jerks, and people from all areas of society gather together in solidarity and peace.
We’ve seen it in the town where I live, on the outskirts of metro Atlanta, between Atlanta and Athens, where protests got ugly in both cities. Two protests took place here in Covington between Wednesday and Sunday. Both events were peaceful and beautiful, and political forced didn’t hijack them.
One example from last week’s protest is Kurt Petersheim, the youth pastor at my church, who made an impassioned plea for everyone around him to know that God loves them and desires a relationship with them.
Other protests in towns next to ours were peaceful – and I would say effective because they were uneventful.
CNN has taken note of the protests in small towns as well, and they’ve profiled some of the protests going on in hamlets across the country. In Farmington, Missouri, college student Grace Gilliam participated in a protest encouraged by her fellow citizens:
“Even if it was small, it was loud, and it was powerful,” she said. “Some people don’t see that these things happen everywhere. It is not specifically in big cities where people of color are facing injustices, it’s all over America.”
In Holland, Arkansas, farmer Chad Jones stood by himself against racism and police brutality. He wanted to make a statement that people in small towns aren’t small-minded:
So he stood outside his farm with his homemade “Black Lives Matter” sign while wearing a “Defend Equality” t-shirt. After a while, a fellow farmer expressed interest in joining him.
“It’s relieving to see more with open minds,” Jones said. “People are angry. This has been going on for years and it keeps happening. I understand why people of color are frustrated.”
In Paducah, Kentucky, young mom Kaneesha Willie hoped that her town’s protests taught her kids an important lesson:
“They are powerful, unique, brave and should be unapologetic about who they are and what they stand for,” Willie said.
In these small towns, the protests didn’t become political rallies or 1960s style “days of rage.” No jackbooted fools with an agenda hijacked these events. People peacefully stood up and made their voices heard to protest racism and the brutality of bad cops.
If you want to see the real America, look to her small communities, where people have learned to “seek the welfare” of their hometowns and affect change in the most peaceful and loving way possible.