MANHEIM, Pa. (WHTM) — The rain came down hard in Manheim on Wednesday afternoon, right as a Black Lives Matter protest was about to march through the streets.
For many, that would have brought an end to protest plans, but not this group.
“If I don’t, then who else?” said Jessica Lopez, Unapologetic 717 Lancaster.
Rain rain go away — or stay — it doesn’t matter to these protesters.
“It was pouring on our heads, and they’re like, ‘Are we marching yet? When are we leaving? Let’s go.'” Lopez said.
So, they went.
Manheim Central graduate Taylor Enterline was an involved student and community member, but she said that didn’t exclude her from experiencing racism daily.
“People in Manheim and towns like these don’t go outside of them, and they think this is normal. So, when they go into the police force, when they become doctors, that’s when we have issues,” she said.
If the people of Manheim aren’t leaving, protesters said they would bring their message to Manheim, by marching through streets and taking nine minutes of silence at the police station.
For the majority of the afternoon, protesters were tailed by a group of armed men and women who said they were part of/associated with the Pennsylvania Light Foot Militia.
“I support black lives matter. Where they lost my support is the destruction of the towns, the violence of the people, the businesses,” said Devon Mena, Lightfoot Militia.
He said he has no problem with protesting, but as a lifelong resident of Manheim, he felt that it was his duty to make sure the event stayed peaceful and no one was in danger.
“If you ask about the people that are standing here and worried about their homes and families and their grandparents not being able to cross the street or getting mugged or beat up, I think they’d say they feel protected. If you ask about [me to] these people, they’d call me racist,” Mena said.
That explanation did not sit well with protest organizers.
“If they’re trying to intimidate you, it’s because they’re scared, and you’re scared of what? To lose what? If the world is equal and everything is just, then what do you fear losing?” Lopez said.
Losing is not something these protesters plan on doing. They said they’ll keep marching, rain or shine.
“I’m here so I can change the school system and make sure it’s better for the kids that walk the same halls I walked through,” Enterline said.
“If there’s one person we can convert, one person we can bring out to the protest, one person we can give strength to, then that’s enough for all of this,” Lopez said.
One of the protests groups, Unapologetic 717, is holding a book drive for the entire month of July. They are looking to collect any books for children and Lancaster County inmates. For more information, click here.