A Black Lives Matter protest is planned for 11 a.m. Saturday at the Main Plaza in New Braunfels.
The two college students and former New Braunfels residents who organized the event invite the public to arrive prepared for a serious discussion about race — and to wear car air fresheners around their necks in memory of Daunte Wright, the 20-year-old Black man who was killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Minneapolis on April 11.
Wright was pulled over for dangling the freshener from his car’s rear-view mirror, which is against the law in Minnesota.
Hadassah Rivera and Autumn Bonds, who is Black, couldn’t believe what happened to Wright. The trial for Derek Chauvin, the now-convicted police officer who murdered George Floyd, was still underway just miles away.
Rivera, who attends Texas State University, and Bonds, who goes to the University of Texas-San Antonio, were discussing these events with friends on Twitter when they decided to plan a small protest.
Bonds moved from New Braunfels to Cibolo as a high-school student because her parents were concerned about the way she was treated in school by white teachers and friends. Now she wants to tackle the issue head-on in the community, which forged her own racial identity.
Rivera, a New Braunfels High School graduate whose first name means ‘righteous’ in Hebrew, got upset when she heard that Bond’s young niece told her aunt she couldn’t love her because she’s Black.
After the two announced plans for the BLM protest on Rivera’s Twitter thread, self-described counter-protesters, not even a part of their circle of friends, began arguing about what BLM stands for as retweets spread the word far and wide.
On Facebook — which Bonds and Rivera don’t use — discussion picked up between former members of the New Braunfels Trump Train involved with the dragging of a BLM flag during a drive around New Braunfels.
Some of the Twitter comments were disturbing enough to cause Bonds and Rivera to seek advice and some guarantees about their safety from the New Braunfels Police Department.
They met with Interim Police Chief Keith Lane, who shared new policing procedures developed with New Braunfels MLK Association’s Bishop Michael Franklin.
To see those, CLICK HERE.
Bonds said she was very impressed by Lane and by NBPD’s good-faith efforts to reach out to the Black community.
“Meeting w the NBPD went AMAZING!!,” Rivera posted on Twitter Tuesday. “They completely understood why we’re doing this & agreed there is a problem that needs changing. They told us abt how they have been working to change it & I am just so proud of NB & its police department. Open hearts and open minds is a game-changer.”
She and Rivera spent the last few days leading up to their BLM protest distributing flyers around the city.
The protest they have planned won’t be all that different from previous BLM events in Main Plaza, Bonds said.
Plans include prayer, short speeches, and open dialog about the intersection of race and policing. Food and drink also may be provided.
Bonds said she just wants people to talk in good faith, not wage war at the event.
“I want to understand you, and I need you to understand me,” she said. “If we’re just yelling at each other, we’re not going to get our points across.”
On Twitter, she said most critics limit their responses to ‘Trump 2024.’ Or call them communists or witches and “play semantics” about the origins of the term black lives matter.’
“I’m just saying black lives matter,” Bonds said. “Period.”
“Honestly, I don’t think they will have anything to say,” she said about potential counter-protesters. “They always try to piggyback off of that, and once we eliminate that, they usually don’t have much to say after that. I would prefer if they just said they are racist, ‘I don’t care about Black lives’ I could understand this.”
She remembers the words of a Black spiritual her grandmother used to sing:
“Freedom, oh freedom over me. And before I’d be a slave I’ll be buried in my grave and go home to my Lord and be free.”
“So yeah, I’m scared about my safety,” she said. “I’m not going to lie in the middle of all this.”