WATCH: Chaos In NC As Violent Counterprotesters Clash With Anti-Racist Activists
According to RawStory, chaos broke out in Gastonia, North Carolina with the “arrest on Monday of a Black woman named Lydia Sturgues outside of Tony’s Ice Cream, where she said she was treated poorly because she was wearing a Black Lives Matter button.”
- “As word spread among conservative whites that the locally owned ice cream shop had become a target of protest, their paranoia and hostility mounted,” the report said.
- “The protests led by Gaston County Freedom Fighters and East Gaston Coalition for Freedom and Justice have been met with dismissal from conservative whites falsely portraying them on social media as violent looters, troublemakers and attention seekers — a perception promoted by some local elected officials.”
“The people that were there, they believe they were protecting Tony’s,” said Ashley Rivera, one of the cofounders of Gaston County Freedom Fighters who help lead the protests. “They believe we’re going to come and loot. They get super aggressive, screaming at us. I’m trying to keep my calm. My members see me, and they come over and engage. They were saying, ‘Let’s talk about our differences.’”
- Tensions escalated on Tuesday when a Black couple named Markus Thomas and his wife Jayla Gordon said they were talking to a white woman named Amanda Lawson, who started getting aggressive.
“She was reaching into her purse,” Gordon recalled. “She said, ‘Give me my gun.’ She pointed it at my face. She said, ‘He’s about to f*ck you up.’ Right after that, he punched me in the face.”
The alleged assault by Sink Lawson isn’t visible in the video, but suddenly people start yelling and running towards the Lawson’s truck, and then forming a barrier between Gordon and the Lawsons. Someone says, “Get her. She’s got a gun.” Two antiracist activists can be seen grabbing Amanda Lawson’s arm so that the gun is pointed in the air. Then Sink Lawson walks in front of the video and the blade of a knife can be seen flashing across the frame.
- “When the Gastonia police arrived on the scene, the video shows Markus Thomas attempting to give a statement to police, but when Lawson angrily retorts, two white men moved in between and cut the conversation with the officer short,” RawStory added.
- “The accumulation of grievances over Lydia Sturgues’ arrest outside Tony’s Ice Cream on Monday, the un-checked violence against antiracists on Tuesday and the miscarriage of justice against Jayla Gordon all set the stage for angry protests on Wednesday.”
- Videos taken by one of the antiracist activists “shows militarized police dressed in helmets and camouflage fatigues and equipped with military-style rifles suddenly running through the group of the protesters with runs pointed in front of them, swarming around two vehicles, and then pointing their rifles at the protesters,” RawStory reported.
- “Are you all serious?” one of the protesters shouts at the police. “What did we do?”
“It is noticed how white men and white women can open carry and nothing be done, but when black men and black women open carry, it’s a police presence,” a New Black Panther Party member from the Charlotte Mid-Atlantic District told Raw Story. “Why treat us different for doing the same thing they’re doing? It’s the same law…. Does that just apply to whites?”
- Per the report, the “Gastonia Police Department made additional arrests on Wednesday evening at Tony’s, with assistance from other law enforcement agencies.