MARION, Va. – A small town in Southwest Virginia became the backdrop for a opposing protests on Friday.
As Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ+ protesters were marching Friday evening, counter-protesters with the American Patriots followed them.
At times the groups yelled at each other, at times antagonizing one another, which prompted police to get the group under control. Police asked the Black Lives Matter protesters to keep walking up one side of the road.
The American Patriots protested downtown earlier Friday near a Confederate monument, and some members of the group told 10 News they heard rumors on social media that the Black Lives Matter protesters were going to attempt to take down the monument.
While as of 7 p.m., the protests weren’t violent, they were certainly confrontational at times. At one point, police created a human barrier to keep the peace between the two groups.
Knowing that both groups might clash, about 200 police officers descended on the small town of Marion earlier Friday, as tensions in town have been building for weeks.
It all started back in June, one day after a peaceful Black Lives Matter protest was met with counter-protesters.
A Marion man was arrested for lying to federal investigators about lighting a cross on fire in a neighboring Black family’s yard. The family organized that Black Lives Matter protest and the one on Friday.
Both groups were fighting Friday for what they believe is right.
“We’re here to protect our history, a lot of people are intimidated because we’re out here armed, but actually what we’ve got on our sides are nothing more than a tool,” said counter-protester Lynn Hess. “We’re all Americans. Black, white, green, blue, whatever. We’re all Americans.”
Others said their goal was to let their voices be heard.
“It’s time for the united states to understand if you want this movement to calm down listen to our people give us laws and regulations so we may be free with no strings attached,” said Black Lives Matter protesters Travon Brown. “All lives matter...but all lives can’t matter until Black lives matter.”
As of 6 p.m. Friday, the group was still marching and police continued to monitor the situation.