Meeting In The Middle of The Mountaintop
#BLM Protesters Peacefully Demonstrate for Justice
© Leadville Today
“We’re going to be out here making noise until there is justice.”
The comment was made by one of the dozens of Black Lives Matter (BLM) protesters in front of the Lake County courthouse in downtown Leadville on Wednesday, June 3. The group of peaceful justice-seekers had grown from only a couple of handfuls on Tuesday to several dozen by mid-week, with online conversations propelling a sizeable gathering by Wednesday afternoon.
Expressing your opinion in America’s highest city is nothing new. In fact, it’s encouraged. Whether it’s a parade (alas, will they ever return?), a political lawn sign, or a post on social media, Leadvillites don’t have a problem letting people know where they stand on an issue.
On the flip side of the coin, is the necessity to keep the peace. For a remote community that is covered in snow most of the year, combined efforts and working towards a common good is critical for survival. So as news of the local #BLM protest hit the Inbox and social media platforms, LT began to monitor the situation through social media feeds, reviewing the video footage and images being shared. It’s part of reporting the news in the 21st century.
On all fronts, it seemed like a peaceful protest with familiar faces leading the lively demonstrations. In contrast to the chaos being reported at other gatherings around the country where interlopers changed the tone and outcome, Harrison Avenue was demonstrating common sense along with civil rights. By Wednesday afternoon the crowds had swelled a bit (over 75 people in one photo) in front of the courthouse. The online exchanges had also become more intense with some residents objecting to the use of profanity or certain images on protest signs.
LT had several contributors on the scene of the growing protests to take photos and conduct live interviews with demonstrators, focusing on the 5Ws and 1H of basic journalism. The following video compilation is raw in format, allowing each individual – who was willing to speak on camera – state their truth in their own words. During the editing process, LT also verified the identity of the protesters to make sure that they were who they said they were and worked where they said they did. Everything checked out.
“I’m here because Black Lives Matter. And it’s clear that right now they don’t. And we need to say that and we need to scream it. And we need to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters,” stated one of the protesters who identified herself as Jeanie, a barista at City On A Hill.
As the crowds grew throughout the day there were concerns about some of the participants being “plants” intending to hijack the event and do harm to the local community. While none of those accusations turned out to be true, LT did reach out to law enforcement for comment about their level of engagement with the protesters.
In addition to the official statement released by Lake County Sheriff Amy Reyes and Leadville Police Chief Saige Bertolas, both officers reported that they did stop by the protest on Tuesday.
“I did contact the group during their peaceful protest on Tuesday afternoon, took a picture with them, and expressed my gratitude and pride in them all using their voice,” stated Chief Bertolas. “At that time, I did recognize several participants to be local but did not know who had organized the assembly,” she responded concerning who was running the show.
Sheriff Reyes echoed similar support, “I’m in favor of peaceful protest.” In fact, Lake County’s top law enforcement officer and a deputy were pictured distributing water to protesters on Tuesday, adding, “I was encouraged to see some people had facial coverings.”
Overall, the peaceful gathering was successful in conveying its message according to protest organizer Stephanie Brandt, a four-year Leadville resident.
“I was pleasantly surprised with how Leadville showed up in support and understanding for the issues surrounding unequal treatment toward Black lives in the face of law enforcement and showing their awareness for a broken system that values goods over human life,” stated Brandt in an interview with Leadville Today. She added that she wanted to see “life-saving protocols put into place that upholds a higher level of accountability for police officers and the criminal justice system as a whole!”
“I was very proud of my town these last few days!” concluded Brandt who was working for Copper Mountain and Majestic Mountain Movers but is currently unemployed due to the virus. Today, Brandt was in Denver (June 5, 2020) participating in protests there.
As of today, there are not any additional protests planned at the local level. But should that change, LT will be there to cover the events keep readers informed. As always, you can email info@leadvilletoday or hit up LT on any of its social platforms. News tips are always welcome!
“Until there is justice for everyone who has died and has experienced racism in this country and around the world, there will be no peace,” stated Jeanie-the- barista. “Peace is a privilege.”
County, City Make Statements
While protesters took to the streets to have their voices heard, Lake County and City of Leadville officials took to the keyboard to make their statement regarding a call to equality, released the following statement to the media.