The entire country has been in protest over the murder of George Floyd ever since the day of his death; May 25th, 2020. USA Today reported that all 50 states held movements to honor George Floyd.
USA Today Map showing the cites of protests in America
Although the civil unrest demonstrations found in Bedford, New Hampshire are not necessarily to the scale of those organized in Boston, the students in this town demand to have their voices heard. On Friday, June 5th, the largest Bedford protest yet was held on Route 101. The event was organized by students Dan Dong, Elena Figler, Katelyn Hirnak, Rhys Lossman, and Penelope Van Der Meer. Those attending the event were urged to wear masks per COVID concerns, and were instructed to “Bring Giant Signs”! The resulting protest lasted from 4pm-7pm, with around 200 people in attendance, standing on every corner of the intersection. A chorus of voices screaming that “BLACK LIVES MATTER!” rang through the air, and supportive honks from cars commuting home cut through the chants.
Organizer Penelope Van Der Meer spoke on why she believed it was important to hold demonstrations in Bedford, specifically.
“We felt like it was really important, especially with Bedford being a majority white town that definitely has a racism problem. We felt it was really important that we came out and showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement, because silence is violence and we don’t want to be complicit.” – Penelope Van Der Meer
According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2019, it was calculated that only around 1.1% of Bedford’s population was occupied by Black Americans, while 93.5% was White. Van Der Meer is certainly correct that our small town is hardly diverse, and she emphasized that this is all the more reason to show solidarity with George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. Protest attendee Leah Cohen, a representative of the New Hampshire Democratic Party, spoke on why it’s so important for young people to get involved with the cause.
“As a political science student, and a person who is working in electoral politics, I understand the value of both the ballot box and being out in the streets – about holding our politicians accountable, about making this work happen in a holistic way. Politics is not just what happens in congress; it is what happens in the streets, it is what we talk about in our homes, it is what we say on social media, and what we do with our friends.” – Leah Cohen
Pictured from left to right: Katey Hirnak, Savannah Zuill and Penelope Van Der Meer.
Similar, smaller protests have been held on the same intersection since. Kendall Cassidy, a BHS junior, can often be found protesting at that very location after 4:00 pm. Just yesterday, on Sunday, June 7th, another organized BLM protest took place. Certainly, Bedford students are making their voices heard, and playing their part in fighting for change.
If you desire to get involved, then there are many local BLM organizations that have hosted vigils and protests! On Instagram, some accounts to follow include: