Protests against police violence and for the Black Lives Matter movement have been taking place all over the United States, not just in large cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, and Atlanta, but in small towns, too. No protest is too small. They all count.
But just because you're protesting in a small town doesn't mean you are safe. In Bethel, Ohio, a Twitter user who goes by the name Ryley Wrigglesworth decided to take part in a demonstration to support Black Lives Matter. She walked into town holding a sign, and she was assaulted for it.
Earlier in the day, she had tweeted, "'All lives matter' redneck biker protest is going on in bethel and I'm about to take my little ass up there by myself with my black lives matter sign. Let's see how this goes."
Just a few hours later, she wrote an update: "Update: I got my sign ripped out of my hand, thrown against a wall and punched in the head for walking across a crosswalk while a bethel police officer watched and tried to act like he gave a f--k when I was screaming at him."
According to Talking Points Memo, Bethel, which is a small village about 40 minutes outside of Cincinnati, planned a demonstration in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It was expected that 80 to 100 people would show up. But then, "several motorcycle gangs, back the blue groups, and second amendment advocates" showed up armed.
By the time the demonstration was supposed to start, demonstrators were outnumbered by counter-protesters and there were about 800 people there. Soon, several scuffles, including the one involving Ryley, started.
The man in the above video was punched in the head right in front of a police officer. The man looks at the police officer and says, "Sir, I just got punched in the back of the head." The police officer suggests that he file a report.
Ryley wasn't deterred by her initial assault. She tweeted, "Made another sign and took my ass right back up there." In another video, you can see her walking back to the demonstration, through crowds of counter-protesters, and being yelled at by a man approximately three times her size.
Why did this small-town demonstration cause such an organized and aggressive counter-protest? Well, in the days before the demonstration, the village received a call that there were "buses" of outside agitators coming to town. Although the town believed this to be just a rumor, they relayed this information to local businesses.
Clearly, word got out. One man on Facebook claimed that the buses were "full of antifa," an unfounded theory that has been spreading throughout towns all over the country. One of the organizer's of Bethel's protest, Alicia Gee, tried to cut off rumors before they spread too widely.
"I think you may have probably heard that there are rumors about another Black Lives Matter protest, people coming in from outside that are Black Lives Matter protesters," she said. "We personally who organized the event are not planning a protest, we are not flocking downtown. I want things to stay peaceful."
Obviously, plenty of people, including 250 on motorcycles, didn't buy it. They came to the demonstration to harass and assault Black Lives Matter protesters like Ryley. But ripping her sign away from her and assaulting her didn't deter her. She and others demonstrating know in their hearts that Black lives matter, and they'll continue to fight for that cause.