Black Lives Matter rally in Fickel Park
By Amber McIver-Traywick
Saturday afternoon Fickel Park was again the meeting ground for a “Black Lives Matter” rally, the second event to take place there this year in support of the movement.
The rally was attended by around 50 “Black Lives Matter” supporters and approximately 100 counter-protestors.
Rally attendees stood along Mountain Avenue waving American flags and holding signs in support of Black Lives Matter and signs with slogans like “Berthoud strong against racism,” “Be Civil Respect Others” and “No Justice No Peace No racist police.” Some in the group also chanted and sang the “Star-Spangled Banner” and “Amazing Grace.”
Counter protestors stood across from the park as well as behind BLM supporters in the park with signs that read, “BLM is a profit company not a movement,” “Freedom not anarchy,” and “David Dorn Bernard Trammel Do Your Research.” Several heated verbal exchanges and some debates happened between the two groups throughout the less than two hours attendees remained in the park. Larimer County Sheriff’s Office bike patrol deputies were stationed around the park during the event but did not engage.
Both last weekend’s Black Lives Matter rally and the one that took place in June were organized by 14-year-old Berthoud resident Faith Solter who is entering ninth grade at Berthoud High School this year. “I decided to organize this past BLM rally out of frustration. I had organized one in early June that went really well. That rally started a lot of conversations in town without (any) hostility at the event.”
The “Black Lives Matter” rally came on the heels of a “Back the Blue” rally in support of local police that took place in Berthoud the previous weekend. The unedited video of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office posse and bike deputies separating the heated clash of protestors who marched down Mountain Avenue and rally attendees garnered national attention as it spread across social media. The video had been viewed over two million times on Facebook before it was removed by the platform. The confrontation lasted less than an hour with the majority of the event remaining peaceful.
Another video was also shared online of the “Back the Blue Rally” that contained edited footage shot by a protester of the rally showing attendees yelling profanities, slurs and derogatory terms aimed at the protestors. Several Berthoud residents along with Mayor Will Karspeck took to social media to denounce the actions of the individuals in the video.
“After I saw the videos of the back the blue rally a couple weeks ago I felt really frustrated and concerned with what was happening in town and with the actions of protestors in the videos. I felt that now was the right time to organize another one so we could show everyone that Berthoud is not as intolerant as some of those videos seemed to show,” Solter commented. Many of those in attendance cited that video as part of their motivation for being at the rally.
Solter said she feels that the rally was successful particularly in light of violence that has taken place in larger cities around the country, “…there were some very tense moments, but no violence. I think that it definitely opened up a lot of people’s eyes on a local level to the some of the divisions in town. I know a lot of people have been having more conversations about this movement and what it truly means and I think that is a great place for making meaningful change.”
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