The square in Annville will be the daily site of a late afternoon Black Lives Matter demonstration, “weather permitting,” from now until July 5, according to organizer Michael Schroeder.
Schroeder hopes to have demonstrators and signs on all four corners of the intersection of Routes 934 and 422 every day from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
The Lebanon Valley College associate professor of history said in a June 9 Facebook post that the ongoing event is sponsored by the Annville Town Square Protesters for Racial Justice.
Protests over police brutality against African Americans have been occurring locally, across the state and country, and around the world since the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. An officer was seen on video kneeling on the prone Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
Standing at the southwest corner of the busy intersection, Schroeder told LebTown that the nearly month-long protest will culminate on July 5 with a public reading at the square of abolitionist and escaped slave Frederick Douglass’ speech “What To the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” Douglass first gave the speech on July 5, 1852.
Schroeder was holding an “All Lives Can’t Matter Until Black Lives Matter” sign as he outlined the protest’s plans between now and July 5. In an earlier email, he explained that he chose his sign’s language “in response to calls from some passing motorists that ‘All Lives Matter!'”
“I’m very happy to say that there’s far more solidarity and support and encouragement for these daily protests than there is opposition or challenges — lots of supporting honks and hand gestures and nods . . . “
An Annville Township police cruiser manned by two officers was parked well back from the street in a nearby convenience store parking lot. Schroeder was appreciative of the department’s presence.
“We thank the Annville Police Department for its exemplary professionalism and public service in making its presence known at this daily protest and protecting our constitutional right to peaceably assemble and have our voices heard.”
Schroeder added that the police department, not he, had suggested that they be present.
Annville Township Police Chief Bernard Dugan confirmed that his department had recommended a police presence during demonstration hours “primarily to make sure the people who are doing the First Amendment protected activity are protected.”
“So far, we haven’t seen anything that’s negative or detrimental.”
Schroeder said that more demonstrators would be welcome. “We hope you can join us in the Annville Town Square any day you can make it (BYOS – Bring Your Own Sign), and especially on Sunday, July 5.”
UPDATE: This post was updated at 10:45 on June 12, 2020, to state the correct date on which Frederick Douglass gave his “What To the Slave Is the Fourth of July?” speech.
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Full Disclosure: The campaign of Michael Schroeder was an advertiser on LebTown during the special election cycle. LebTown does not make editorial decisions based on advertising relationships and advertisers do not receive special editorial treatment. Learn more about advertising with LebTown here.