SAN ANTONIO – These protests didn’t end with rubber bullets, fires or vandalism, but they still caused a roar.
Protests at small towns across the United States have erupted this week — although many not broadcast by national media — as locals tried to create a change in their own backyards.
One of those took place in New Braunfels on Tuesday, when a group of about 50 people met at the Main Plaza roundabout to protest the death of George Floyd, police brutality and social injustice.
“It’s not white versus black, it’s not the people versus the police, it’s simply just right versus wrong,” a protester told KSAT 12 News. “We’re not here to be bad at cops. We’re against bad people.”
Peaceful protest held in New Braunfels in wake of George Floyd’s death
That day, the air in downtown New Braunfels was filled with chants of “Black Lives Matter” and “don’t shoot” — the same chants shouted in massive demonstrations we’ve seen in San Antonio, Dallas, Houston, New York City, Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Minneapolis, where Floyd died in police custody, among other major cities.
But what makes small-town protests different, Buzzfeed News reporter Anne Helen Petersen writes, is that these cut to the core, and they’re happening everywhere.
Protests have also occurred in mid-size Texas cities like Lubbock, Waco and Frisco, as well as smaller towns like Wimberley, with a population of 3,100 and Stephenville, a conservative town with a population of about 21,000.
Just massive in Stephenville, Texas, population ~21k.— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) June 4, 2020
"If this bothers you imagine a knee on your neck" pic.twitter.com/s6UfDSFfyW
Petersen said Wimberley’s protest was organized by two teenagers.
And in Wimberley, Texas, population ~3100, a protest organized by two teens: pic.twitter.com/KunAFsM2Z1— Anne Helen Petersen (@annehelen) June 2, 2020
In Denten, which has a population of about 138,541, a large group of demonstrators rallied at a shopping center.
Probably 4K in downtown Denton.— Peggy Heinkel-Wolfe (@phwolfeDRC) June 1, 2020
Denton Texas y'all #dentonrc pic.twitter.com/2KqdTmhGm3
At least three consecutive nights of protesting occurred in Tyler, a town of about 105,000 people.
One of those protesters in Tyler, Drew Steele, told the online news organization that the city has “quiet racists,” therefore it’s essential for protests to happen there.
“Small towns tend to be old-fashioned,” he told Buzzfeed. “And racism is an old-fashioned way of controlling others.”
He said with a large number of protesters, the issue of racial injustice and the people willing to stand up to it “won’t be shoved under the rug.”
Mayor Ron Nirenberg delivers impassioned speech to protesters
Buzzfeed mentioned that protests had also been scheduled in Belfast, Maine, in Farmington, New Mexico, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in Bentonville, Arkansas, in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in Paducah, Kentucky and other small towns in Montana, Oregon, Utah, Oklahoma, Minnesota. The list goes on.
“These small towns matter because it’s a lot of small towns," Ande’ Green, an organizer of a protest in Alliance, Ohio, told Buzzfeed. "All of these small towns coming together, it’s what we need to make a change.”
Dr. Keely Petty, chair of the San Antonio Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, previously told KSAT 12 News that this movement is heightened because of the “young generation” and their willingness to protest.
“When we look at past protests and protests up to now, I think that young generation, we could call the millennials, they have a different perspective because they are just not going to tolerate it to the degree that past generations have...” she said, adding that one major factor is that protests have erupted in every single state.
“We should remain hopeful because it will be this generation that will bring about systemic change that we have been waiting and praying for generations,” Petty said.