“Love trumps hate”, one speaker said. It most certainly did.
TUPELO, MS – a local group fighting against police brutality held a rally downtown to call for justice for a young man that was killed by a police officer last month, and two hours later many from that group went to a park to oppose a rally originally promoted as a League of the South event to defend the Mississippi state flag and particularly the Confederate flag that adorns it.
500 protesters sponsored by the group Our Lives Matter 2 marched to support the family of Antwun “Ronnie” Shumpert, 37, an unarmed Black man who was shot and killed by Tyler Cook, a White police officer on June 18. Marching from the Bancorp South Arena through downtown and to Tupelo City Hall demonstrators sang gospel songs, chanted and spoke out against police brutality.
When the Our Lives Matter 2 rally was first announced there was a call from the White Supremacist League of the South (LOS) to hold an “Enough is Enough” rally to oppose it, but they canceled those plans based on the notion that rally organizers were ran out of town and that any attempt to march would be met by citations from the City of Tupelo. A small Klan group however, briefly held a counter demonstration at a nearby realtors’ office building, but was largely ignored by the attendees of the much larger rally.
Despite the cancellation from the League of the South, a rally was held a few miles away two hours after the Our Lives Matter 2 rally by a group that called itself the Confederate United Patriots Society (CUPS) that held their rally to support the Confederate flag after telling WCBI they felt the rally was necessary after some have called for the state flag to come down in the wake of Ronnie Shumpert’s death. Curiously, the Mississippi state flag was not flying at City Hall during the rally there.
Many of those who planned to come out to the event when the LOS were the sponsors were in attendance and even spoke, including Arlene Barnum and Andrew Duncomb, two African Americans from Oklahoma who have made a name for themselves defending the Confederate Flag and attacking the Black Lives Matter movement. Barnum was promoting the event even when it was being sponsored by the LOS, despite it being a hate group. There was also a brief altercation with members of the LOS and the Klan that counter demonstrated the earlier rally that resulted in the Klan leaving the event. The altercation was unrelated to the rallies.
Participants of the Our Lives Matter 2 rally also made their way to Ballard Park and despite the fact that the CUPS brought attendees from a number of different states, the mostly local group opposing them were able to outnumber the neo-Confederate attendees. Both events remained peaceful with no arrests, although Duncomb had to be pulled away from a discussion with the counter-protesters when a discussion became increasingly heated.
Our Lives Matter 2 says that there will be more rallies for Ronnie Shumpert in the future.