by MATT MOLINAR/Opinion Editor
The Black Lives Matter movement has become one of the most talked about controversies in America.
Members of the Lubbock community took it upon themselves to include the city in the movement during a recent protest gathering.
Some citizens believe that the same discrimination on our television sets occurs not that far from us.
On Aug. 30, the community-run organization, Standing On the Side of Love, held a peaceful demonstration in Lubbock in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“I care about this issue,” said Daniel Bontempo, a Lubbock resident, “whether it’s militarization of the police, or any other thing that disproportionately effects people of color. People online in the area have been saying hateful things about the events that are happening in Baton Rouge.”
Bontempo originally thought only eight people would show up to the demonstration. However, a public discussion forum was held and 40 people attended. The number of people in support started to grow much larger as the cause gained more attention.
“Not everyone came back after the first meeting,” Bontempo said. “But when we lost 15, we gained another 20, and we slowly started building up. Then we started forming committees. We are all just a network, and we have no leader. We had a meeting committee who responded to interviews. We had a sign committee in charge of making signs.”
The hope for the organization is that the demonstration would help generate positive attention to the issues. Aggression is not tolerated in the organization.
“Here, in Lubbock, violence just isn’t in our vocabulary,” said Franceca Depopoa, a philosophy professor at Texas Tech University. “In other places, the police are being pretty antagonistic. But here, there is no reason for us to be against the police. We have had their cooperation from the beginning.”
At the beginning of the demonstration, a man walked by the protesters holding a sign that said, “Please don’t burn the city down.” Although the organization had no intention of burning anything, it is a fear that many Americans believe due to aggressive protesters who use violence as a tool to grab attention.
“We’re hoping to prove him right,” Depopoa said. “Our hope is that people will start to talking about us in a positive way.”
Timothy Cole, an African American who was a Lubbock resident, was wrongly convicted of rape two decades ago. He was exonerated from the charges only after he died. A statue was erected in his memory by artist Eddie Dixon on the corner of University and 19th Street in Lubbock. This was the location of the Black Rights Matter demonstration, where a variety of people of different races, ages, and religions attended. One sign read, “Trans, black lives matter.”
Robert Baxtor, a community member and father, brought his 4-year-old son to the demonstration.
“I think, for my son, this means he can have a great life without discrimination,” Baxtor said. “It’s nice seeing different colors gathered together in support of Black Lives Matter.”
As the demonstration continued, passers-by would honk horns and wave. However, some who were not in support of the movement would either wave their fingers, or leave the group standing in a cloud of thick, black smoke from a diesel engine. Some would roll down their windows and shout, “All lives matter.”
“Of course all lives matter,” Depopoa says. “Black lives matter, white lives matter and blue lives matter. We’re not suggesting that only black lives matter. It’s nonsensical for me to say only black lives matter and mine does not. But the point is that when a certain segment of the population is the target of injustice and brutality, then that is what we need to draw attention to. ‘All lives matter’ is a sort of silencing technique. Well, what else should we say? Why don’t you agree with that [Black Lives Matter]?”
After an hour had passed, a cloud began to pass over downtown Lubbock, leaving protesters in the rain. But nobody left their positions as the rain began to fall more. As the pouring rain continued, demonstrators began leaving the memorial.
No additional events have been planned. However, members of the community anticipate future demonstrations.