On July 18, a peaceful Black Lives Matter rally was planned in Pleasant Valley, NY. Permits were secured, arrangements were made with local law enforcement, and trained peacekeepers had volunteered to attend to ensure the safety of all participants. What ensued instead was a violent ambush by pro-police counter-protesters. The cops on the scene did little to intervene and keep the peace, which of course has given many rally-goers the impression that they sympathized with the counter-protesters.

The following is an excerpt from a piece by Arvind Dilawar in The River about the event, re-printed with their permission:

“We were spat on, hit, shoved, and thrown to the ground,” says Linda Codega, a rally participant. “Black women and children were especially targeted … a 12-year-old Black girl was slapped while being called the N-word. A peacekeeper was punched in the face and had to get an X-ray after, her nose likely broken.”

Despite actively working with local law enforcement to plan and execute their event, Rally for Black Lives organizers and participants were openly and repeatedly attacked during the march. The amount of violence was minimized only by participants who worked together to ensure their own safety.

The Rally for Black Lives was proposed by organizer Royal Parker to Pleasant Valley authorities early in July. Parker suspects that news of the rally reached the Dutchess County Conservative Party after authorities notified local merchants. DCCP’s counterprotest was set just across the street from the rally, one hour earlier.

While billed as a pro-police event, the counterprotest helped coalesce the violent opposition to the rally. The discussion on DCCP’s Facebook event derided the Black Lives Matter movement as a “violent” and “barbaric” “hate group.” Parker also describes how, elsewhere on Facebook, counterprotesters discussed wanting to run over protesters, as has happened at Black Lives Matter events in other areas.

“Pretty much just trying to justify what their future actions might have been,” says Parker of the counterprotesters.

Arvind Dilawar attended the event himself, and the full article is complete with video footage that corroborates his claims.

More video footage can be viewed on the Poughkeepsie Journal, which also covered the rally.

We recently interviewed two women for our podcast who were peacekeepers at the event, Dana Bol and Margarite Pastor. Margarite was punched in the face by a belligerent counter-protester. Richie Rosencrans, co-host of the podcast, was also in attendance at the rally.

Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

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Photo: Erin Scott, REUTERS