These days, confrontations between President Donald Trump’s supporters and left-leaning activists are expected to be filled with anger, insults and, at worst, violence. But a different scene played out during the right-wing “Mother of All Rallies” at the U.S. Capitol on Saturday when Trump supporters invited Black Lives Matter counter-protesters to speak on stage.
Clips from the rare moment went viral Monday on Facebook, and while people found it refreshing that the opposing groups could come together, the Now This video didn’t show the entire interaction. Henry Davis, a black Trump supporter and performer at the rally, was the first person to invite the BLM activists to join him, but he quickly changed his mind.
“I want Black Lives Matter to see a black patriot,” Davis said as the group walked to the front of the crowd. However, once the Black Lives Matter group stood on stage, Davis kicked them back off after warning them to be quiet. “Don’t nobody want to hear you speak,” Davis told the BLM group while instructing them to stand behind a line. A few awkward moments passed as Davis clashed with the protesters before rally organizer Tommy E. Hodges took over the microphone.
“So you guys know that the ‘Mother of All Rallies’ was to end the political violence,” he told the BLM group. “It’s about freedom of speech. It’s about celebration. “So what we’re going to do is something you’re not used to, and we’re going to give you two minutes of our platform to put your message out. Whether they disagree or agree with your message is irrelevant. It’s the fact that you have the right to have the message.
“It’s your right to say what you believe,” Hodges told the group. “And it’s their right [referring to the pro-Trump crowd] to let you know what they think about what you’re saying.” Then he handed the microphone to Hawk Newsome, president of Black Lives Matter of Greater New York.
“I am an American,” Newsome told the crowd, eliciting cheers and applause. “And the beauty of America is that when you see something broke in your country, you can mobilize to fix it. “So you ask why there’s a Black Lives Matter,” Newsome continued. “Because you can watch a black man die and be choked to death on television and nothing happens. We need to address that.” To be sure, the crowd wasn’t willing to accept all of Newsome’s speech. At times they booed him and yelled out “Bullshit” and “All lives matter!”
But there were moments when the crowd accepted the black rights activist’s message. When Newsome said he was a Christian and was taught to “Love thy neighbor,” the crowd cheered. And the crowd responded with a mix of cheers and groans when Newsome proclaimed he was not “anti-cop.” “We are anti-bad cop,” he said. “We say if a cop is bad, he needs to get fired like a bad plumber, a bad lawyer, like a bad fucking politician!” When Newsome said “All lives matter, right? But when a black life is lost, we get no justice,” some people called him a liar.
Newsome’s speech did end with a message of unity: “If we really want America great, we do it together.” Then the crowd broke out into a chant of “U.S.A.”