Before Thursday’s “Black Lives Matter” protest in Howell, it was feared that there would be violence or strife as constitutional patriots showed up to keep order. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
“Some of the veterans brought coolers full of bottled water, which they offered to protesters. Two uniformed Howell police officers stood near the memorial watching. Several others could be seen nearby in cars. Other men, who appeared to be plainclothes officers, wandered through the crowd,” the Detroit Free Press noted in their report about the protest that drew dozens of people.
2nd Amendment activist Rob Rodriguez-Pelizzari went to the protest. Rodriguez-Pelizzari is a coordinator with the 2nd Amendment Sanctuary Counties movement. He and his team pushed to get Livingston County to pass a resolution declaring that gun rights will be protected in the county regardless of unconstitutional edicts passed at the state and federal levels.
Rodriguez-Pelizzari went to the protest to make sure nothing got out of hand, but what he saw was a moment of unity between his group and the “Black Lives Matter” protesters that was unexpected.
“What we did do was we went to more of an operational role where we were observing and looking for anything, and at the end of the day, the person who put on the Black Lives Matter protest came over and shook our hands and was almost crying in joy for the added security we brought,” Rodriguez-Pelizzari told the Michigan Sentry.
Rodriguez-Pelizzari said that there were contentious moments from certain agitators who were looking for a squabble, but ultimately they did not win out and the community came together. Howell police, constitutional patriots, and Black Lives Matter activists all worked hand-in-hand to make sure that there was no destruction and mayhem at the rally.
“We were very much appreciated, and we were happy to be involved in that process and to stand behind the thin blue line,” he added.
Rodriguez-Pelizzari said his group made it an emphasis to form a dialogue with the Black Lives Matter activists, and this went a long way toward promoting the unity seen at the event.
“When we initially got there, it was very important to us to talk to the protesters directly to explain to them why we were there because there was some misinformation shared by cop haters who wanted to make believe that we were there for any other reason than being citizens who wanted to make sure our communities stay safe,” he said.
“We let the activists know that we were proud of what they were doing, and we hoped that they had a very safe protest, and that we were there to back the thin blue line, and that’s all that we were there for. Overwhelmingly, all the protesters respected our approach and things went smoothly,” Rodriguez-Pelizzari added.
Even though the two groups can be perceived as at odds due to media propaganda and political partisanship, Rodriguez-Pelizzari noted that they both have a common interest in promoting justice against a corrupt government system.
“We’re united on Floyd. Let’s stay where we are united. Quit looking at our differences, and lets go back to the old way of looking at the things that we have in common. There are so many more of those than what divides us,” Rodriguez-Pelizzari said.
Howell has a reputation as a hotbed for racism and a Ku Klux Klan haven. However, that was never actually the case. There was one notorious individual who lived in the area who created that perception, and he was reviled by the broader community.
The Free Press reported:
Howell has a long history of racial tension. In the 1960s and ’70s, Robert Miles, the former Grand Dragon of the Michigan Ku Klux Klan lived nearby. Howell residents are quick to note that he didn’t live in Howell proper, but rather in Cohoctah Township, a farming community about 10 miles north of town.
Miles was one of several former Klan members convicted of the 1973 bombing of 10 school buses in Pontiac that were to transport students to integrated schools. He held Klan meetings on his farm, but Howell residents note that he drew fierce opposition in the 1970s when he tried to hold one in front of the historic courthouse, where the Black Lives Matter rally was held.
The successful protest in Howell shows that bridges can be mended even with an epidemic of polarization sweeping the country.