Chagrin Falls is a largely white, affluent town in Ohio and yes, it has a lovely waterfall. Four summers ago, Monitor staffers stayed there while covering the Republican National Convention in Cleveland.
So when Monitor reader David McClurkin sent me an article about his town, I took notice. “Hysteria in Chagrin Falls over George Floyd protest exposes troubling mindset of white America,” the headline read.
A local 15-year-old boy had decided to organize a Black Lives Matter rally, and the reaction showed fear: Merchants began boarding up their storefronts. The teen, Chase Tuller, received threats. He canceled the event – but the town kept preparing, “apparently for a marauding band of looters,” columnist Leila Atassi writes in Cleveland.com.
Many business owners felt conflicted about boarding up. They didn’t want to appear unwelcoming, but they had seen the violence in Cleveland over the weekend, and feared losing their livelihood.
Then a beautiful thing happened. About 150 people, including Chase, gathered anyway – African American, white, young, old. A pastor led them in prayer. There was no violence.
“The message many demonstrators tried to peacefully deliver on Saturday had indeed found a receptive audience in the heart of white America,” Ms. Atassi wrote.
Chase said he held the event anyway because “we can’t cancel a movement.” But, he added, “much work lies ahead.”
Unusual in this time of unrest have been the countless rallies in small towns across America – even Vidor, Texas, once a Ku Klux Klan stronghold. At that rally, when a man arrived in a pickup covered with Confederate flags, he was told to leave.
“For a moment, at least, hate was on the run,” writes Texas Monthly.