Hundreds of armed counter-protesters confront Black Lives Matter rally in Ohio

Counter-protesters harassed group of peaceful demonstrators with rifles, bats and racial slurs in mostly white town of Bethel

Adrian Horton

A small and peaceful demonstration in an Ohio town to support the Black Lives Matter movement at the weekend was overwhelmed when hundreds of counter-protesters – some armed with rifles or baseball bats – harassed the group.

Alicia Gee, a 36-year-old substitute school teacher, expected about 50 people to attend a demonstration – the first protest she had ever organized, she told the Cincinnati Enquirer – but almost twice as many turned out.

The rally was intended to show solidarity with the minority black community in Bethel, a mostly white town of about 2,800 people 30 miles east of Cincinnati, she added.

But the small group of protesters were overwhelmed when roughly 700 counter-protesters turned up to show their opposition to the kind of rallies and marches against racism and police brutality sweeping the nation since the killing of George Floyd by a police officer in Minneapolis in May.

Gee’s gathering demonstrated the renewed reach of the Black Lives Matter movement to small, majority white towns in the midwest that haven’t seen protests in years, spurred by recent, high-profile examples of killings of black people by white police officers or armed individuals acting as vigilantes.