Offensive behavior by ‘All Lives Matter’ group against Black protesters sparks concerns, Norco officials say
Norco in Riverside County has declared a local emergency and issued a daily curfew following a violent clash between Black Lives Matter demonstrators and counterprotesters Monday.
Following a violent clash between Black Lives Matter demonstrators and counterprotesters in Norco on Monday, the city has declared a local emergency and issued a daily curfew.
The 6 p.m.-to-6 a.m. curfew will be in place indefinitely, city officials said Tuesday in announcing the measure. The curfew, like others implemented across Southern California in early June amid protests over the death of George Floyd, prohibits residents from being in any public area, with the exception of police and first responders, essential workers and homeless people.
The move came one day after a rally protesting police treatment of Black Americans was held at Neal Snipes Park, followed by a march to Norco City Hall. The gathering was marred by what city officials called “offensive” behavior from a group toting “All Lives Matter” signs and waving American flags and Trump 2020 banners.
The initial group of 40 or 50 mostly college-age demonstrators was outnumbered nearly 2-to-1 by counterprotesters.
A video posted on Instagram shows a man with a neo-Nazi symbol on his shirt flipping his middle finger and cursing at the crowd before shoving a protester. The man then grabs another protester’s Black Lives Matter sign and throws it behind him, while other counterprotesters continue taunting those in the initial gathering.
“The counterprotesters were revving their engines, trying to disrupt our reading and our guest speakers,” said Elizabeth Kavainain, who was among the protest organized by Norconians for Racial Justice. “As a group together, our voice was strong, and our voice was loud. I think that that really says something.”
The protests have mobilized many non-blacks who hadn’t yet been involved in racial justice causes. Black protesters say it’s a sign of the movement’s impact.
Though agitators threatened her and screamed profanities directly at her, Kavainain said their behavior didn’t deter the group, noting that she hopes to continue fighting for racial justice in Norco.
By Wednesday, another profanity-laced video showing scores of counterprotesters mocking the racial justice group had more than 32,500 views on Instagram. “Get out of here,” one man shouts, while another is heard calling out, “Mask-wearing cowards,” as deputies escorted the Black Lives Matter group along the road toward City Hall.
A faint chant of “No Justice, No Peace” can be heard in the background.
Many commenters on the post condemned the agitators — nearly all of whom were white — for “assaulting women.”
City officials announced Tuesday the incident is under investigation, noting that “Norco does not condone these actions and denounces the offensive behavior of some of the counterprotesters.”
A joint statement from Riverside County sheriff’s Lt. Andrew Elia and Norco City Manager Andy Okoro stated that “the images displayed yesterday do not reflect the level of respect Norconians typically extend to their neighbors.”
“Norco residents have had widely divergent reactions to the outpouring of grief, anger and demand for change by the Black Lives Matter movement that has recently swept the nation,” the statement said. “While individuals in our community are entitled to their First Amendment rights to peacefully assemble and express their views, the violent behavior exhibited yesterday does not in any way represent the values of our organization.”
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