A peaceful protest in downtown Bel Air drew hundreds of participants and shut down Main Street on Wednesday afternoon as protestors kneeled and chanted against racism and police brutality in front of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office. The otherwise positive event was marred, however, when a family leaving the rally was victimized by a group who shouted racial epithets at them.
The event was organized and promoted on social media as the Bel Air Protest for George Floyd with a mission of raising awareness and bringing an end to the “senseless murder of black lives across America.”
The group began forming by the Harford County Circuit Court House fountain at 1 pm and about an hour later the Bel Air Police Department alerted motorists via its social media page to use caution while traveling through town because a peaceful demonstration was being conducted. Shortly thereafter, Main Street was closed from Route 22 to Pennsylvania Avenue to accommodate the swelling crowd.
The atmosphere of the protest was described as peaceful and positive by many who attended, who also found it encouraging that the movement was spreading beyond big cities.
“I just think it was very moving to see it move out of the cities and into the suburbs. I think people are actually going to listen to this now,” said Kevin Connelly, a protestor who attended the event in Bel Air and snapped a photograph (seen above) of participants with their heads down and arms raised during a moment of silence.
“I think the photo reminds me of the photos from the 60s I’d see in my textbooks from when I was in school. It’s crazy that we are still working for the same movement,” he added.
In contrast to some recent protests across the country, which have turned into violent clashes between police and protestors, Connelly said the law enforcement at this event kept their distance and watched from afar.
The positive mood of the protest changed shortly after the event ended, however, when a family was confronted by quartet of local racists.
In a social media post about the incident, Anita Nickens said she attended the protest in Bel Air with her daughter and two of her daughter’s friends.
As they left the event, Nickens said a group of four teenage boys, apparently all white, engaged them in conversation from several floors up on the Bel Air parking garage. The teens began mocking George Floyd, the man who was killed while being taken into custody by Minneapolis police last week, and the conversation became heated to the point where the teens eventually told Nickens and her group, “You n***** need to shut the f*** up.”
Nickens pulled out her phone and was able to take clear video and photos of the teens, which quickly led to outrage and their identities being outed after she posted it on social media.
The four teens who shouted the racial slurs were evidently all identified as students at Harford Technical High School, who work for the same contracting company. According to follow-up replies on social media, both their school and their employer have been made aware of the situation.
As horrific as the encounter with the racist teens was, Nickens said she was also dismayed at the lack of response from her white protestor counterparts, who saw and heard, the incident, but did nothing to come to her aid.
“Like how do you come from a protest, shedding fake ass tears for our lives, claiming to be in solidarity with our fight, see it first hand and do and say nothing?!?!,” she wrote.
Nickens further alleged that she told nearby deputies from the Harford County Sheriff’s Office about the incident, and even pointed out the offenders in their vehicles as they drove by, but no action was taken.
“But I shouldn’t have expected that from a bunch of white cops in a white county who when we asked y’all to knee with us during the protest you laughed and walked into the building,” she added.
Another protest is scheduled for the same location in Bel Air on Thursday and other protests will be held in Havre de Grace on Saturday and Sunday.
The Harford County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately answer questions about whether it knew about the incident and if it was taking any action.
Below is Nickens’ full and unedited statement about the incident:
“Today my daughter, two of her friends and myself went to a black lives matter protest in Belair MD.
As we where leaving 4 white guys purposely made it their business to ask “what the protest over?”
We told them yes.
The one in the black cap proceeds to say “since he couldn’t breath and died y’all shouldn’t had been protesting shit. That’s what he gets” and laughed…
I asked him “what the fuck did you say?” And he repeated it
My daughter then told them to shut their privileged asses up and went into telling them why why blacks protest bc of people like them.
As she was doing that, the guy in the fatigue hat said “you niggers need to shut the fuck up”. Guy in the black started saying it to.
Once I took out my phone and started video tapping they stopped and the two in the middle tried to hide.
But guess what fucktards….. SCREENSHOTS ARE A BITCH!
I have the video of my 17yr old crying and explaining in tears and anger why she has to fight just to be black in this shitty world with racists like them.
Yep, I got video!!!!
But the shittiest part is this
Dozens and I mean DOZENS of white people who had just left the same fucking protest as us, sporting their fancy ass BLM posters, did nothing, said nothing but simply walked on by. They saw this!!!!!
Like how do you come from a protest, shedding fake ass tears for our lives, claiming to be in solidarity with our fight, see it first hand and do and say nothing?!?!
PEOPLE IN HARFORD COUNTY MARYLAND WHO WAS AT THIS PROTEST CAN SUCK A BUTT!!
Y’all use our skin color for something you truly dont care about, for clout!!! You saw something happened and turned a whole ass blind eye!!!! Y’all fake be for the cause for photo opts and to say y’all was there!!!!
Oh and to Harford County Sheriff’s Office shout out to your shit officers who stood by and watched. Not only when I told them and showed them the guys and their truck and car, did fucking nothing but let these idiots drive by!!!
But I shouldn’t have expected that from a bunch of white cops in a white county who when we asked y’all to knee with us during the protest you laughed and walked in to the building…..
I’m hip, trust me.
Y’all are wack af for this and no I’m not gonna shut up about it.
But in the mean time….
Here, I know they are from Harford county.
Don’t know names but trust me I’d love to!
I’m gonna make sure I share this.
And y’all share it too!!
Bc these fuckers definitely had a shit ton to say FOUR FLIGHTS UP like punk bitches and I invite this to be said to my face.
I am a momma bear….
Don’t ever fuck with my kid and her melanin skin.
*****SHARE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN AND WANT TO!*****
They didn’t care about my daughter’s and my feelings calling us niggers so fuck their feelings and privilege!”