Violent counter-protesters mobbed a small-town BLM demonstration in Ohio amid false rumors of antifa
A small anti-racism demonstration in Bethel, Ohio, became violent when hundreds of counter-demonstrators arrived after learning about the event from Facebook.
The counter-protesters shouted, tore up signs, and attacked demonstrators, resulting in "about 10 incidents" being investigated by the Bethel Village Police Department, a statement said.
During the clash, counter-protesters surpassed false claims that Antifa was involved and repeated similar misinformation seen when targeting other small town protests.
"I always suspected that Bethel was a very racist city," said a protester in a Facebook post after the violent clash. "It confirmed today."
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A peaceful demonstration in support of the Black Lives Matter in Bethel, Ohio on Sunday was interrupted by counter-demonstrators.
Abbi Remers / Facebook; Andrea Dennis / Facebook
A small group of locals planned to host an anti-racism rally in Bethel, Ohio on Sunday to promote Bethel's demonstration of solidarity with Black Lives on social media.
However, counter-protesters identified by Bethel's police department as "several motorcycle gangs, supporters of the blue groups and supporters of the second change" also found out about the protest plans on social media. Hundreds of people descended on Sunday's peaceful protest, singing "USA, USA" and causing chaos.
The counter-demonstrators contributed to "about 10 incidents" that are under investigation, Bethel Village Police Department said in a statement Monday. Such an incident included a demonstrator who was slapped in the back of the head. Like other acts of violence against demonstrators during demonstrations in the United States triggered by the murder of George Floyd on May 25, many of these incidents were recorded on camera.
A video by radio reporter Josh Martinez posted on Twitter showed the man who was beaten by a counter-protester. In the video, the protester is surrounded by other white men who scream and harass him. You can hear a man shouting: "Get the F-K out, brother." A counter-protester, wearing a Confederate flag headscarf, hits the demonstrator on the back of the head. "Sir, I was just hit in the back of the head," the protester then said to a police officer.
A # BlackLivesMatter protester in #Bethel #Ohio was hit DIRECTLY BEFORE A COP and the officer did nothing to protect and serve the protesters.
6:56 AM - June 15, 2020Dayton, OH
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Amid the chaos of the video, it is unclear how the officer responded immediately, but the man who hit him did not appear to be removed from the scene.
Other tweets and Facebook videos show the scene that happened on Bethels Plane Street, including more physical confrontations, men with guns, and at least one Trump 2020 flag.
More from Bethel, OH. My niece is beaten up by bikers and local shitters.
7:04 a.m. - June 15, 2020
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Amber Deitsch, a protester who posted live Facebook videos of the collision, told insiders that a counter-protester had harassed her daughter. One of her videos features the same man with a racist bow. "I always suspected that Bethel was a very racist city," said Deitsch, who lives in a nearby city, in a Facebook post. "It confirmed today."
Deitsch's 16-year-old daughter told insiders that the counter-demonstrators claimed they were there to protect the city from violence. But she said they did the opposite. "The [counter-protesters] caused a stir and that was what they were supposed to prevent," she said in an interview.
The clash takes place amid a series of precarious and dangerous encounters in largely peaceful protests, while vigilante groups such as the Boogaloo Bois civil war acceleration movement continue to emerge. Many counter-protesters in these situations have claimed to be participating in protests to ward off members of the anti-fascist "Antifa" movement, although the FBI has said there is no evidence that violence in demonstrations across the country is linked to such an organization Has. Even so, President Donald Trump continues to comment on "Antifa" because misinformation is common.
Village administrator Travis Dotson informed the investigator that Bethel had received at least two phone calls alleging that "demonstrators' busloads" were on their way into town, but there was no evidence to support the allegations. Similar wrong tips have plagued other small town police departments across the country.
On Facebook, a man who says he lives near Bethel posted a video Monday saying that two or three buses with Antifa members were on the go to demonstrate the spread of the rumors. A live stream of the event on YouTube was labeled "Antifa / BLM Show in Bethel Ohio LIVE NOW! 6-14-20". Deitsch said that the people associated with Antifa were not in Bethel on protest Sunday or Monday.
Deitsch said it appeared that the police were trying not to get involved in the clashes. When she told a police officer that she and her daughter were being molested, she said he should just cross the street. "Silence is deafening," she said to insiders about the inactivity of the police officer. "His answer to the racist men was: 'This mother and her children have to go.'"
Deitsch's daughter Cadence added: "We were harassed and the policeman did nothing." Insiders asked Bethel Police Chief Steve Teague to comment on what happened on Sunday.
Andrea Dennis and her mother also shared their experiences on Facebook, writing that they were both attacked at the event. "The 1.5 hour harassment is nothing compared to the centuries of harassment, murder, and systematic repression by African Americans, Indians, and other marginalized groups in the United States. That's why we were there," she wrote in one post. In a separate video, Dennis' mother Lois said the counter-protesters "tore apart their signs".
According to the US Census Bureau, the village of Bethel is a 97% white city with less than 3,000 inhabitants. There are only six police officers, all of whom were stationed at the demonstration. Nine other Clermont County MPs have been deployed to support the post-protester situation, Bethel said in his statement.
Alicia Gee from Bethel coordinated the demonstration and advertised it on her own Facebook page. She wrote on Sunday morning that she "would tell anyone who listens, no matter what skin color you love". Gee said that this was "long overdue" in her "very monochrome city".
Gee, a 36-year-old substitute teacher, told the Cincinnati Inquirer that she also had a Facebook event for the demonstration. The Bethel police statement said that the groups of counter-demonstrators "became aware" of the plans "through social media advertising."
Dennis, Gee's childhood friend, told the investigator that she was "really scared" when the others arrived. "I was really scared because they carried guns and were so aggressive," she said. "They grabbed me and grabbed my mother and they just didn't seem to respect the law."
Despite the dangerous incidents she saw, Cadence Deitsch said she was not afraid of the counter-demonstrators. "I know what I believe in and I don't want to let anything stand in the way of it, even though they bothered me," she said. "It won't stop me from getting up."
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