Editor’s Note — This article has been edited to reflect the cancellation of the Hillsboro Rally Against Racism.
Hillsboro’s second rally against racism, originally set for Saturday from 5-9 p.m., was canceled on Saturday morning, but organizer Shawn Captain spoke with The Times-Gazette about the importance of holding additional events. To give protesters the space they need, Hillsboro will not host a cruising event on the same evening, Bring Back Cruisin’ to Uptown Hillsboro Organizer Dan Holsinger said Wednesday, but he invited Hillsboro cruisers to join him in Greenfield to ‘bop the circuit’ and support the village’s cruising efforts.
The Hillsboro Rally Against Racism was canceled around 8:30 a.m. on Saturday. In a post in the rally’s Facebook event page, organizer John Keyser said, “After speaking with Shawn Captain, we have both decided that, due to the high percentage chance of heavy rain high winds and thunderstorms, it’s in our best interest and everyone’s safety that we postpone/cancel this event for a later time and date. Please stay in contact with us as we are mulling over several ideas to support our cause not just a protest, maybe a bake sale, walkathon, talent show, fundraiser etc… Once again the protest for today is CANCELLED sorry for any inconveniences this may cause we are worried about everyone’s safety first and foremost.”
Captain told The Times-Gazette Friday that the rally was planned in response to the events in nearby Bethel, where a small group of protesters at a Black Lives Matter (BLM) demonstration were met with nearly 700 counter-protesters, according to The Guardian, an international daily newspaper. Multiple local, regional, and international news sources reported on acts of violence, including an incident in which a counter-protester struck a BLM protester in the back of the head, that occurred during what was intended to be a peaceful demonstration.
Fox 19 reported that some counter-protesters came to the demonstration with guns and baseball bats in hand while others waited for buses that rumors on social media said would bring people from outside the community who intended to “cause unrest.” There were no reports of the arrival of these buses.
“What happened in Bethel is what people threatened to do to us during our first BLM protest here in Hillsboro,” Captain said.
The first BLM demonstration in Hillsboro took place on Saturday, June 5 and went peacefully, though some protesters said a few community members waited for the group along the route and made negative remarks as the protesters walked by, and drivers in trucks flying Confederate flags revved their engines before speeding off, ultimately cruising through uptown Hillsboro later that evening.
Following the first protest, Captain, whose grandmother fought for the integration of the Hillsboro elementary schools in the 1950s alongside other Hillsboro Marching Mothers, said, “The fight has to go beyond the protest. Racial profiling and racism in general are prevalent in Hillsboro, so if you see something then say something! If you turn a blind eye to the world now, history will turn a blind eye to you later. Ignoring an issue makes you a tacit supporter of it.”
However, many community members have expressed confusion and anger at the idea of another demonstration in Hillsboro.
“I’ve heard people say that they don’t see the point in more protests, but small-town voices are actually important,” Captain explained. “There’s still no justice for Breonna Taylor, and we still have no reform. In regards to what happened in Bethel, I don’t think we should back down from racists and let them intimidate us into being quiet. We need to let them know that enough is enough. John and I are actually planning on other ways besides protests to bring awareness to racism, police brutality, and racial profiling. Hopefully the community, even those who disagree with us, will support and join us in our future endeavors to bring this community together and have some nice conversations about why we’re speaking out.”
Breonna Taylor was a Louisville, Kentucky woman who was shot and killed in her bed in early March by police officers who had the “wrong house.”
In the description for the Hillsboro Rally Against Racism Facebook page, organizers wrote, “Join us in speaking out against racism! This is a problem that cannot be sidelined any longer. Unite for the fight! This will be a PEACEFUL protest. No looting, no rioting, and no vandalism. This is still our town, so be respectful. We will be reaching out to the local PD and Sheriff’s office once again for any assistance they may be able to offer. If you have a face mask then please wear one. COVID-19 is something that still needs to be taken seriously.”
Captain has also condemned vandalism such as graffiti, also known as tagging, in posts to the page. In a June 18 post, Captain said, “It has been brought to our attention that this was tagged on a building near City Park in Hillsboro. Not sure how long it has been there, but would like everyone to know that whoever did this is not associated with us. We do not condone vandalism in any form and John and I will be removing this on our own behalf.” Accompanying the post was a picture of a building with “Black Lives Matter” graffiti.
On June 20, Captain posted pictures of the building after he and other community members painted over the graffiti.
On Wednesday, Bring Back Cruisin’ to Uptown Hillsboro Organizer Dan Holsinger told The Times-Gazette that he and other cruisers will not cruise in Hillsboro on Saturday and will instead join Greenfield’s “Bop the Circuit.”
“We actually talked before I knew about the protest, and then later on, a couple days later, I said, ‘Well, if they’re going to be protesting, the city will probably end up shutting down a couple more streets.’ Last time that happened, we ended up going down another block, and we were cruising in more residential neighborhoods, and that’s not cool. People don’t want to hear exhaust right next to their house,” Holsinger said. “I don’t see that as a good scene for us, so I just kind of suggested that since that’s going on, we give them their space, let them do their thing, and we’ll stay out of their way. We got this other thing going on in Greenfield; we may as well go show some support there at the same time.”
Holsinger said he stands by protesters’ first amendment rights.
“I think a lot of wires get crossed, and there’s a lot of miscommunication between people. I say let them have their space, let them protest, let them say what they want to say — that’s their right. I’m all for it,” Holsinger said. “If you feel oppressed, you need to speak up. Whether or not you are oppressed — that’s how we figure that out: by people speaking up. You have to be able to talk to people to understand where they’re coming from and where you’re coming from, and then you meet in the middle. That’s how things get worked out.”
According to the “Bop the Circuit” Facebook event created by organizer Zach Anderson, circuit cruisers meet at Greenfield Research, located at 347 Edgewood Ave., at 5:30 p.m. and then take to the streets at 6 p.m. Kutz Grill, formerly known as Luna Grill, will be set up on Jefferson St. between Fifth St. and Fourth St.
Find the Hillsboro Rally Against Racism, Bring Cruisin’ Back to Uptown Hillsboro, and Bop the Circuit on Facebook.
Reach McKenzie Caldwell at 937-402-2570.