In peaceful protest, group affirms Black lives matter
By ANTHONY FLORES
In Liberty Hill, at the corner where Highway 29 and Loop 332 meet, a crowd of about 150 people knelt for eight and a half minutes to remember the death of George Floyd.
Leading up to that, protesters supporting the views of Black Lives Matter lined the highway, holding signs as drivers passed. The crowd raised their fists in solidarity, shared prayers, and talked about why they felt the need to be involved on a hot Saturday in Liberty Hill.
Protest organizer and Liberty Hill local Angie Bare sees this as an essential time in the country, and she wants Liberty Hill to be part of the conversation.
“This is happening all over the country and in other countries,” said Bare. “We just wanted to provide a safe space for the people in Liberty Hill who stand in agreement to have a voice and join the movement.”
Understanding the area, Bare is aware that her beliefs may not line up with the overall community, but the protest organizer hopes to open the door to different ideas.
“I do understand that this may not be the predominant opinion of everyone in Liberty Hill, and that’s perfectly fine,” she said. “I’m not looking to cause a fight. I just want to have a place where people can openly support things that maybe aren’t typically presented in rural Texas.”
While the event received a large amount of resistance on social media, Bare’s intentions aren’t to create conflict but to instead create conversation.
“If someone wants to have a polite and civil conversation with me, I will always welcome that,” said Bare. “I don’t like scare tactics, and I don’t want people to try and force us not to assemble because we’re allowed to, and I think that’s part of our rights. As long as we’re all being respectful of each other, we can have differing opinions.”
Denise Hunt, a resident of Liberty Hill, originally from Jamaica, chose to participate because it’s a matter of life and death for her. Life and death based on the color of her skin.
“I am out here because I am a black woman, I am out here because I’m a black mother, I’m out here because I am a black sister, black daughter, and a black wife,” said Hunt “I am tired of people telling me I need to choose a side because of my color. I’m choosing a side because of life or death, and I’m out here because it seems to me there is an exponential number of black lives being lost to different systems.”
Hunt’s experience in Liberty Hill differs from that of the white community. Since arriving, Hunt and her son have experienced some form of racism.
“I’ve experienced racism, but the hardest part of it for me was that my son got it very badly because, as a Jamaican, he grew up half here and half in Jamaica. He was bullied badly in school,” she said. “As a Christian black woman, I experienced it in my church, and that broke me a little bit because that is supposed to be a safe place.”
Hunt struggled to contain her emotions when asked how the turnout of the event made her feel.
“There are more people not of my color out here, and I know the percentages, there are more white people living in Liberty Hill we can’t do it unless white people step up. Black people cannot do it without white people willing to stand beside us,” said Hunt. “When I came out here today, I was like okay, there is some hope, and I can act a little bit more on that hope.”
Coming from Round Rock, Jillian Kerlin and her family felt the calling to stand for injustice. As a mother of two black sons, Eliyas and Kebede, the issue engulfing the nation hit close to home.
“We don’t live in Liberty Hill, but most importantly, we want to stand for justice because we have two black kids,” said. “About six years ago, when we adopted our first son, we were awakened to our privilege and systemic racism. We don’t feel like we could be silent.”
With emotion in her voice, Kerlin said she was proud to see the Liberty Hill community’s response.
“It’s emotional to see that in a small town like this, so many people want to fight for justice,” she said. “It’s encouraging to see enough people care to come out in the heat to make their voices heard.”
As the peaceful thinned out, one lone individual parked across the highway, waving an American flag. Soon after, a man with a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ sign joined in.
One incident did occur as a man with a child arrived and began walking in front of remaining protestors, yelling at them. Four police vehicles arrived, and the man crossed to the opposite side of the highway. Contrary to misinformation on social media, there were never more than five individuals who counter-protested the BLM protesters.