KINGWOOD — There was shouting, differing points of view, raising of signs and flags, and displays of weapons on both sides, but no violence at a Black Lives Matter march Saturday in Kingwood.
About 40 people gathered to support the BLM movement and around 60 to object to the BLM march.
At 9 a.m., a group of people gathered at the Kingwood Walmart parking lot to show opposition to the march. Several flew U.S. flags on their vehicles. Many went on to the march in Kingwood.
Bob Miller, of Bruceton Mills, said, “We don’t want any violence. They can protest all they want; I have no problem with that, but they don’t need to come in and destroy and be destructive and disrespect the town that they’re here to protest in.”
A man who would identify himself only as “John Patriot” from Pennsylvania, said he was, “here to support our West Virginia people. To keep our rights where they’re supposed to be. To make sure that this is hopefully a peaceful situation and that from what we’ve seen of Black Lives Matter, as far as we’re concerned, they are a terrorist organization.”
A Morgantown man who had a “Blue Lives Matter” flag and an American flag, said, “We want to show the police that we’re here for them.” He cited the number of violent protests nationwide. His friend said, “We’re just a bunch of American patriot standing up for what’s right.”
Neither would give their names.
In Kingwood, BLM supporters gathered by the Kingwood Pool, where they had rented the park.
An armed group carrying shotguns and rifles that identified itself as “security” told marchers to stay on the sidewalk and not argue with others.
There were men carrying long rifles among those who protested the march as well.
Monongalia County Del. Danielle Walker addressed the group before the march down Price, past the courthouse, along W.Va. 7 and back down Price.
“I stand with all people, and I love all people, but in this time we know that there is disparity amongst us,” she said.
Referring to the uncertainty of how the march would go, Walker said, “We are one. Now when we say Black Lives Matter, by no way we are disrespecting that All Lives Matter.
“But what we are begging for, and what we are marching for, and what we are crying for is I need you to see me. I need you to protect me. I need you to love me. I need you to hire me,” she said.
“I don’t care what side you are on, I would hope that we could talk together on one accord and share one love,” Walker said.
People waving U.S. and Trump flags met the protesters at Firemen’s Field, on Price Street, and the two groups marched side by side or following the other.
Some shouted “Black Lives Matter,” and “No justice, no peace.” Others shouted “All Lives Matter,” “USA” and “four more years,” referring to Trump’s candidacy.
When they reached W.Va. 7, the BLM protesters stood on the courthouse sidewalk and those in opposition to them on the opposite side of W.Va. 7.
For about 30 minutes, they hurled slogans and taunts back and forth, before going back down Price.
Kingwood Police and Preston Sheriff’s deputies were on hand but did not interfere, except to keep traffic flowing.
At the conclusion of the march, Jerry Carr, president of the Morgantown/Kingwood Chapter of the NAACP, spoke to the BLM marchers about what’s next.
We try to make changes, he said, “We try to have conversations.”