BLM Protests Connecticut Racism, ‘Freedom’ Crowd Speaks Out Against Biden Administration & Vaccine Mandates – Hartford Courant
HARTFORD — With only a few moments of fairly mild tension, Black Lives Matter and Connecticut Freedom held overlapping rallies at the state Capitol on Saturday.
There were undeniable shades of contention between the two small groups, but no fights and several harmonious situations – including around three minutes where Connecticut Freedom protesters took up the BLM chant of “End Hate Throughout America.” State”.
Fears that a KKK-affiliated group was slowly showing up were dispelled when the impromptu parade of Connecticut Freedom protesters around the Capitol featured nothing but Donald Trump banners, Thin Blue Line flags and numerous signs profanely condemning the president. Joe Biden and coronavirus health mandates.
Despite sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, neither group managed to attract many people. Neither BLM nor the Connecticut Freedom group had more than 75 people at any one time.
The Capitol was closed to the public because state lawmakers decided not to hold a session on Saturday, prompting angry complaints from both groups. But Capitol and city police, who stood nearby throughout the rallies, thankfully reported afterwards that there had been no violence or reports of related unrest.
When the BLM rally began at noon, PowerUp CT founder Keren Prescott warned the crowd to be alert to neo-Nazis and stay calm even if they were verbally baited by counter-protesters.
“They can exercise their First Amendment right. They have every right to do so. We are not engaging,” she said. “If you try to confront one of these people in the Freedom Convoy, you put the lives of black and brown people in danger.
Reverend Cornell Lewis pointed out that several armed members of the John Brown Gun Club were providing security for the rally. When three men carrying flags took up positions on the lawn behind the rally, Lewis and several members of John Brown approached them. The two sides had a terse conversation as Capitol police officers slowly made their way towards them, but the moment passed without incident.
Two of the men with flags told Le Courant they were protesting Biden administration policies. One said he was from Bristol and the other from Ellington, but neither gave names and referred to themselves only as “patriots”.
Later, several dozen Connecticut Freedom supporters approached the locked front doors of the Capitol, then shouted insults at lawmakers who had taken the day off.
“They should shut it down permanently,” a man shouted into a megaphone.
The group marched to the back of the building and shouted chants.
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A man on the Connecticut Freedom side wore a cap emblazoned with a profane Biden slur. He declined to give his name, but said he was protesting mandatory sex education in public schools as well as any remaining mask or vaccine mandates.
“We don’t hate the people up there,” he said, pointing to the BLM rally on the steps of the Capitol.
Carrying an American flag and wearing a sweatshirt decorated with the flag, Brian Williamson of Sarasota, Florida, said he has been part of the Freedom Convoy since March. He said he blamed federal COVID-19 restrictions for hampering his father’s access to doctors.
“On May 28, 2020, my dad took his own life. He had stomach cancer. He couldn’t be seen, so he took his own life,” Williamson said.
Prescott and several BLM speakers said Connecticut needed to do more about racism and specifically called on public school systems to deal more seriously with racist chanting and racially motivated bullying.
Shortly before the Freedom Convoy passed, Prescott said BLM’s problems weren’t limited to people of color.
“If there are poor white people listening, you and I have more in common than anyone who supports Trump,” she said. “Poor white people use SNAP more than people of color. You suffer more than us.