Important matters

Demonstrators take to the streets in Reno

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The news that a Black Lives Matter demonstration was going to be held in downtown Reno on July 15 attracted some of the internet’s nastiest trolls. The comments on social media and local TV news pieces about the event, back when it was still upcoming, were downright disturbing. Latent racism became blatant. Some jerk even “joked” about driving a truck through the crowd. It was the kind of stuff that if you were to have woken up in the middle of the night and made the never-a-good-idea move of glancing at Facebook, it would have ruined whatever chance you might have had of falling back to sleep.

A lot of the comments accused the Black Lives Matter movement itself of being racist and reacted with variations of “Shouldn’t all lives matter?” As a friend of ours said, that response is a little like going to the emergency room with a broken leg, and then watching in frustration as the doctor examines your arms and ribs. You say, “But doctor—it’s my leg that needs help!” And the doctor replies, “All bones matter.”

So it was a bit of a relief that the actual demonstration was peaceful and thought-provoking. Some counter-demonstrators showed up and had their say. And the fine folks of the Reno Police Department were present and gracious, interacting peaceably with demonstrators of a movement that’s often characterized as anti-police. And there was a diversity of opinions expressed by the demonstrators, some of whom held signs, like “Good cops quit,” that could indeed be read as anti-police. Other signs commemorated the lives of people, like Alton Sterling and Eric Garner, who had been killed by law enforcement. But the majority of signs read quite simply, “Black Lives Matter.”