In Rural N.H., Demonstrators Say Anti-Racism Rallies 'Make Our Community Stronger'
As rallies against the killing of George Floyd entered their second week in New Hampshire, demonstrators gathered in rural communities across the state Monday to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
At Claremont’s Broad Street Park, nearly 100 people assembled, including Rob Lovett, who’s lived in Claremont for about two years, was there with his wife and two young sons. He said he’s seen online conversations in community groups that say rallies like these aren’t valuable because Claremont is not a racially diverse city.
“This is how we take those steps we take to become more diverse and let people know that they are welcome here, and I think that makes our community stronger as a whole,” Lovett said.
Melania Lavric drove to the Claremont rally from nearby Grantham. She said she was energized by the recent decision by the Minneapolis city council to dismantle that city’s police department and rethink its public safety system. She wants to see the momentum of the past few weeks continue in the coming months.
“I’m hopeful people will still have this kind of energy, the drive and the clarity that something needs to change and it needs to be a huge systemic shift,” Lavric said.
In North Conway Monday evening, a two-man band played protest songs for a crowd in Schouler Park while Emma Trabulsie, 21, waved a homemade sign at passing cars.
“I am expecting probably some middle fingers, but I will just hold loving space for those people and hope that seeing a huge group of people like this come together will just open their mind a little bit to what the world is like for people of color,” Trabulsie said.
Down the line of demonstrators, a young woman of color, 15-year-old Chanel Meakem, said she didn’t think this many local people would show up.
“It shows a lot of power in unity,” Meakem said. “I think there's a lot of kids out here, and it's really great.”
Living her whole life in a very white town in a very white state has never been easy, Meakem said. Last year, after an uncomfortable freshman year at Kennett High School, she withdrew in favor of homeschooling.
“It was with the teachers, as well as the students,” she said. “More like singling out and then comments every now and then.”
At 5 o’clock everyone gathered in the park to observe 8 minutes and 47 seconds of silence to honor the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. They then then left flowers, vigil-style in the grass, as though marking a grave.