While riots and police force have begun escalating in the U.S., a protest in Pictou County is gaining momentum.
Demonstrators have been stepping out since Sunday afternoon in downtown New Glasgow across from the George Street Bridge on a gravel lot to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Saturday night, Jay Reddick decided he wanted to be able to do something and speak out for the movement in his hometown. With some quick organizing and help from Facebook a group, Pictou County Supporting #BLM movement, a protest was organized for the next day and has allowed the demonstrators to not only spread the word but share times for protesting and more.
“We got a lot of love and we got some hate,” shared Reddick about the first day of the peaceful protest. He is hoping that having people locally protest and show support to the Black Lives Matter movement will start some conversations in the community.
“The only way we can make change is to have these hard conversations,” he said. With police brutality making headlines across the continent, Reddick is concerned that people have become numb or are unfazed by the shocking news.
“I don’t get to turn a blind eye to this,” he said. “We are here and this affects us.”
As a person of colour who has grown up in Pictou County and lived here his whole life, Reddick shared that discrimination is nothing new to him and it does happen here, whether it is an unapproving glance, refusing to let someone by in a store because of the colour of their skin or more, it is an issue to which Pictou County is not immune. He said the hate messages yelled at himself and others the first day of protesting was evidence of this.
“It’s always subtle, but as a black person it breaks my heart,” Reddick said.
He added that although the police in Pictou County may not be abusing or killing people of colour in the county, seeing things like this happen across the border can be very triggering and cause a lot of emotion and fear for people who are worried about how the colour of their skin will affect how they can live.
“Although it doesn’t happen here, doesn’t mean it can’t,” he said.
Newly appointed Chief of Police for the New Glasgow Regional Police, Stephen Chisholm stopped by the demonstration Monday afternoon to talk with Reddick and some of the others in attendance about the issue and share that he and his police force are on their side.
“I thought that it was an appropriate response,” Chisholm said about the peaceful protest. “We support the message.”
He added that the NGRPD wants to see the message that the local Black Lives Matter group are sharing continue and that it is a conversation that should happen in the community. Upon hearing about the demonstration, Chisholm shared that he had no concerns that anything like what is happening in the United States would be a problem here as it was pretty clear what the intent of the demonstration was.
“We are encouraging officers to stop by,” he said, adding that he thinks his staff should have a dialogue with the demonstrators on the movement and the support of the police force for the issue. He also reminded that those who do wish to demonstrate need to follow health guidelines by staying distanced and wearing the appropriate PPE while taking part.
Reddick shared that if those passing by see the movement he would encourage them to take part or just stop for a conversation.
“Listen to black people, have these uncomfortable conversations,” Reddick said.
Owen Samson, 7, stands with his parents and brother on Monday supporting a message of love. (Brimicombe photo)