Black Lives Matter, pro-police demonstrators speak out in Bainbridge

first_imgBAINBRIDGE (WBNG) — Tensions were high in downtown Bainbridge Saturday afternoon as Black Lives Matter protesters were joined by demonstrators in support of the police. At the Black Lives Matter event, Rev. Ladana Clark, founder of ChurchNtheHood, came out to join the push for police reform in small towns like Bainbridge. While leaders encouraged protesters to be peaceful, there were a few isolated confrontations which became briefly physical. Clark said her time as a police officer gives her perspective when pushing for reform. Thomas Lord of Bainbridge said he supports the police, but approached Black Lives Matter protesters in hopes of having a conversation. Rev. Clark said she came to speak in order to share her first-hand experience with racism. “When we say ‘Black Lives Matter,’ we don’t mean that other lives don’t [matter],” Clark said. “We’re just saying that if all lives matter, treat Black people the same.” However, Ward had her own thoughts. “There is a place for the police,” she said. “But they’re not daycare workers. I think they’ve been asked to pick up a lot of societal ills in their jobs, and that’s wrong and that has to change.” “It’s possible to fix and change the situation that we have right now, but it’s not going to be possible right now until America deals with this deep dark historic thing called systemic racism,” she said. center_img Despite an afternoon of tension, not everyone in the crowd came out to stand on one side or the other. “I believe that no matter who you are and what you stand by, you should listen to somebody else’s opinion,” Lord said. “You don’t have to agree with it, but you should listen, and understand where they’re coming from.” “I know what the fight is, I know what it’s like to go into a store and have people follow you around because of the color of your skin,” said Clark. While disagreements about how to best handle local police departments are front and center, Rev. Clark emphasized the Black Lives Matter movement is about more than just police reform. “If we abolish the police, what’s gonna happen when someone breaks into somebody’s house in the middle of the night? What are we going to do?” Ward asked. “Are they going to call a social worker and have them say, ‘I’m sorry your daddy wasn’t nice to you when you were a baby, but do you wanna maybe not shoot those people?'” While Rev. Clark pushed her message, those leading the demonstration across the street argued that defunding the police is not the answer. “The police are that thin blue line between us and evil. They protect us,” said Gilda Ward of Tri-County Tea Party Patriots. “If we don’t have them what do we have? We have chaos, we have anarchy. We need them to protect us.” The Black Lives Matter protest was scheduled for 1 p.m. on the village green, but before the event began, a counter protest made up of people supporting the police formed on the opposite side of Main Street. last_img