At Concord Black Lives Matter rally, a push to keep momentum

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  • Agath Okany of Manchester reacts to the speakers at the Black Lives Matter rally at the State House on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Kayla Lewis of Hooksett, New Hampshire holds up a sign at the Black Lives Matter rally at the State House on Saturday, June 27, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Attendees gathered on the State House lawn to support the Black Lives Matter movement Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • Matt Gile (left) and Kayla Lewis hold signs at the Black Lives Matter rally at the State House on Saturday. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

  • A protester puts up a Black Lives Matter banner at the State House in Concord, New Hampshire on Saturday, June 27, 2020. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Monitor Staff
Published: 6/27/2020 5:23:43 PM

Concord’s second Black Lives Matter event – this one a rally, not a march – on Saturday on the State House lawn attracted the usual players for a movement that has become front-page news, ever since George Floyd was killed.

State troopers and police were everywhere. Thirteen men, some with AR-15 assault rifles, another wearing an American flag like an overcoat, lined up in the turning lane on Main Street, telling skeptical rally goers that they were there to keep the peace.

Beyond a few heated exchanges on Main, hundreds of supporters of the BLM movement attended, cheered in solidarity as several black leaders delivered speeches filled with fire and hope.

Najee Brown of Eliot, Maine, a guest speaker, compared the African American experience to that of the Isralites, who he said “suffered 400 years of bondage.”

Joseph Lascaze of the ACLU criticized New Hampshire law enforcement for lacking transparency, saying “How do you make a difference without data?”

Asked that same question, Mya Trujillo of Allenstown, an 18-year-old black woman, said individuals must first see the light in themselves, before our society can reach its potential.

“People’s mindset and values and morals need to be realigned,” said Trujillo, who’s attending Howard University, an all-black school, this fall. “There’s a need to see the person, not the color. I realize that New Hampshire is not innocent, but we have to talk to people and think about another perspective.”

Mya sat on the lawn with her brother, Noah Trujillo, 10, and their mother, Maria Trujillo. She said early education is vital to improve race relations.

“We need the new generation to not see someone’s color,” Maria said. “Don’t assume. They need to see a person, not race.”

Both mother and daughter agreed that defunding police was a good thing, making sure to mention that it would have nothing to do with dissolving police departments. Some funding used by law enforcement would go toward schools, but Maria acknowledged that “we still need protection.”

Erica Waters, a 17-year-old black student at Londonderry High, said she’s confident the current movement will continue to grow and attract white people, as long as “the media is keeping everyone updated, and I think that will continue. We’ve been able to do that the last couple of months.”

Asked what initial change should be made in this country to advance civil rights, Waters said, “Bring light to any injustices by police in their behavior. Show that anyone who has done something illegal gets arrested and is held accountable.”

Several white people who were approached for input shied away, happy to support racial equality but uneasy about speaking for African-Americans.

Meanwhile, things for the most part remained calm, with a heavy police presence making sure. Two state troopers stood in front of the Daniel Webster statue, appearing to be guarding it. They paused for at least five seconds when asked if that’s what they were doing, then declined to comment.

The rally closed off Main Street, one side blocked by two huge Department of Transportation trucks. The line of men in the middle of the street identified themselves as protectors of the Constitution, the Second Amendment, freedom and the people in attendance.

A man with a plastic toy air gun confronted the group, loudly proclaiming that he was a lover of Democracy and they weren’t.

Karen Carlson of Loudon, a Black Lives Matter supporter, approached the group with a question: “I wanted to know if their guns were loaded.”

Then she joined her family and left, but not before adding one final thought.

“Good luck to you guys,” Carlson said. “Peace and love.”

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