MONMOUTH — Two different groups occupied the corners at Main Street and Highway 99W on Thursday afternoon.
People with the Truth & Freedom United group mingled with Black Lives Matter protesters.
While it was easy to distinguish which group people were there with, they occupied the same space — sometimes yelling at each other, sometimes talking with each other and sometimes standing silently next to each other.
The BLM group has had a few people at each corner daily between 4:30 and 5:30 p.m. since June 1 protesting police brutality and social injustice. These protests, and many other similar protests, are not organized by the BLM organization, but rather are in support of its message to combat violence against Black people and communities.
People from TFU arrived shortly before 3 p.m. on Oct. 1 and intended to stay until 6 p.m., said Bodie Bemrose, who was there with that group.
People from BLM heard TFU was going be there, so some from their group arrived early, too.
There is some dispute about how people from each side treated each other as they were setting up, but ultimately they coexisted peacefully.
Unlike some other area protests, no one at this event was seen carrying weapons, only flags and signs.
“We’re not against BLM,” Bemrose said. “We’re pro-freedom. We are not a Blue Lives Matter group. This is about preserving our freedom. We want to preserve the Constitution.”
He said they didn’t have a message they were trying to get across, “The flag speaks for itself.”
Bemrose said the group didn’t want to be divisive.
Several people who were there with TFU said they are concerned about some of the ideology they think is behind the BLM movement.
#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 after the man who killed a teenager, Trayvon Martin, was acquitted.
Trayvon was walking home from the store when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.
According to its website, its “mission is to eradicate white supremacy and build local power to intervene in violence inflicted on Black communities by the state and vigilantes.”
At around 6 p.m., people who were with TFU gathered at one of the corners, said the Pledge of Allegiance and ended with a prayer before leaving the area.
People with the BLM protest, stayed a little longer.