A tiny Ohio village ordered an overnight curfew after Black Lives Matter demonstrators faced off for a second day in a row with armed counter-protesters.
About 800 demonstrators and counter-protesters clashed -- sometimes violently -- in Bethel during a Sunday afternoon solidarity march with Black Lives Matter, and armed whites again showed up on village streets Monday afternoon armed with rifles and waiting for busloads of black protesters who were rumored to be on their way, reported WCPO-TV.
“You can have a conversation, but don’t put 'Black Lives Matter' in it," said Denver Hinkston, from nearby Moscow. "Put 'Everyone’s lives matter' in it. That’s what gets everybody all upset."
The village, which has a population of about 2,800 people, issued a curfew starting at 6 p.m., and protesters started leaving after it went into effect, but not after the two groups clashed again, resulting in one arrest for disorderly conduct and another for being drunk in the roadway.
“For the most part, so far today a lot of shouting, a lot of sides expressed," said police Chief Steve Teague, who deployed all six of his officers to the demonstration. "Most part been fairly calm. We have a lot more presence here today than we had here yesterday, so the scene is much more quiet."
Teague blamed "rabble rousers" on both sides for the violence, which remains under investigation.
“There was some people who wanted to express their First Amendment right -- which is perfectly legal -- inside of the other groups,” Teague told WLWT-TV. “Both sides were saying ‘lives are important,’ which they are, and ultimately they were trying to say the exact same thing in multiple different ways and just couldn't get that through to each other.”
Videos circulated online showing Sunday's clash, which saw white counter-protesters hurling insults and profanity at Black Lives Matter supporters and physical assaults, including one white demonstrator being sucker-punched as a police officer stands nearby.
“After seeing the news on the protest in Bethel, I felt compelled to come and speak to anyone who would hear me," said Dawn Coombs, who lives nearby. "That this community is made up of peaceful and loving people, who believe in peaceful protests."
Hannah Barger, who took part in Sunday's march, said she was ashamed of Bethel's response to the civil rights demonstration.
"It’s embarrassing on this town’s part," Barger said. "This town is disgusting and it’s a disgrace to say that I’m from here. I don’t even want to say I’m from here anymore.”
The police chief said the clashes were unlike anything he'd seen in 20 years on the job.
“If you asked me a week ago if any of this is going to come to Bethel, I’d say never," Teague said. "I’m still in shock of it being here."
This was a common sight on one side of Plane Street. Many counter-protesters carried guns, and bats. Outside of a f… https://t.co/NnYk2x6Hzf— Jake Ryle (@Jake Ryle) 1592269769.0