HONESDALE, PA — For the second consecutive week, demonstrators in Honesdale gathered in Central Park and lined up and down Church Street, holding signs in support of the Black Lives Matter …
HONESDALE, PA — For the second consecutive week, demonstrators in Honesdale gathered in Central Park and lined up and down Church Street, holding signs in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. After the drama and tension that had surrounded the borough’s first peaceful protest—owed largely to the potency of social media in turning fear-based gossip into reality—the demonstration on Thursday, June 11 was purposely much smaller and quieter.
“I received threats on my life [during the first protest],” organizer Amanda DeMasi said. “I wanted to have a presence again, but I didn’t want all the craziness again.”
Peaceful anti-police brutality protests have spread widely throughout both Wayne and Sullivan counties, taking place in Livingston Manor, Monticello, Narrowsburg, Callicoon, Liberty and, most recently, Hawley. None, however, attracted detractors of the Black Lives Matter movement quite as magnetically as Honesdale’s first protest. Self-appointed security guards showed up to the event, openly carrying firearms as they strolled around the park. A group of cars—some adorned with Blues Lives Matter, Make America Great Again, or Confederate flags—circled around the park’s perimeter throughout, often revving their engines loudly. And thanks to false rumors of riots and chaos, many business owners closed their stores early or hired extra security for the night.
To avoid a similar situation from unfolding, DeMasi spread word about the second protest almost entirely via word of mouth. Most of the attendees said that they had heard about it from a friend who was also going. Some members of the local “Wayne County 4 Action” learned of the protest through their private Facebook page.
A few dozen arrived, most of them familiar faces from the previous week, many brandishing familiar signs. Before heading to Church Street to make themselves visible to a steady flow of drivers coming home from work, the group stood in a circle near the park’s fountain, listening to DeMasi talk about her interaction with the Wayne County Commissioners, which had taken place earlier that day (see below).
Others arrived without signs, instead carrying clipboards asking people if they were registered to vote or not. Another was carrying a bag full of postcards addressed to Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey, asking him to support Justice in Policing Act, a new piece of legislation that would ban police chokeholds and no-knock warrants.
DeMasi, who until a couple of weeks ago was primarily an environmental activist, said that recent, highly-publicized instances of police brutality against people of color have demanded her to shift gears. She has promised to make the protests in Honesdale a weekly occurrence until she “starts seeing some change.” She also said that the next protest on Thursday, June 18, would be a bigger event with speakers and possibly a presence beyond Central Park.
“I want this to be a redemption for Honesdale,” she said.