Demonstration, Vigil Opposing Racism Planned in Hellertown

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The weekend of June 13-14 in Hellertown will be only the second since Northampton County was moved from the state’s red to its yellow zone as part of the state’s coronavirus pandemic reopening plan. More people will naturally be heading outside to enjoy the weather and leisurely pursuits, however some will also be venturing out to peacefully protest what they believe is systemic racism in the community and across the country.

Since the death of Minnesotan George Floyd–an African-American man–at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer caused widespread outrage in May, anti-racism protests have spread to cities and more recently small towns like Riegelsville and now, Hellertown.

Saturday’s Black Lives Matter demonstration will be held from noon to 2 p.m., rain or shine, outside Hellertown Borough Hall, 685 Main St., with social distancing guidelines in place to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Hellertown Demonstration Protest Black Lives Matter

Credit: Saucon Democrats/Facebook

A sign made for Saturday’s Black Lives Matter protest in Hellertown says, “If you truly believed all lives matter you’d stand with us.” Use of the expression “All lives matter” has become a point of contention between anti-racist protesters and individuals who say they believe saying “Black lives matter” minimizes the importance of white people’s and other people’s lives.

The event is organized by Saucon Democrats, although the group stressed that it is only helping to facilitate the demonstration being held.

“The sole purpose of this peaceful demonstration is to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement and to address racism in our community and beyond,” a post in the event discussion said. “Although the event is supported by Saucon Dems, it has no affiliation with any outside organization, groups or enterprises. All are welcome, but we ask that the focus remains on #BlackLivesMatter, its goals and how these goals can be realized in our community. You can learn more about #BLM here: www.blacklivesmatter.com.

Face masks are also required to be worn unless a medical condition prevents one from doing so, according to information posted in a Facebook event for the demonstration.

As of Friday evening, approximately 70 people had responded that they are “going” to the event and more than 200 had said they are interested in attending it.

Attendees are encouraged to bring their own protest signs as well as water, and are asked to wear something black and not engage with counterprotesters should there be any.

Confirmed speakers for the demonstration include Michael Laws, vice chair, Pennsylvania Democratic Black Caucus; the MacLean family, whose experiences with racism in the Saucon Valley School District became national news thanks to an A&E documentary; U. Harold Levy, chair, Northampton County Democratic Black Caucus; Marvin Boyer, NAACP political action chair; Alan Jennings, executive director, Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley; and local faith leaders.

A separate event that is also related to the ongoing movement against racism in the U.S. will be held at First UCC in Hellertown on Sunday, June 14 at 2 p.m.

A “Vigil for Peace and Justice” will be held in tandem with UCC congregations across the country.

“Our congregation, utilizing good social distancing and protection guidelines, will gather outside our church building to hold lighted candles, offer prayers for peace and stand in support of our siblings of color who have been subjected to racial injustice for far too long,” a statement advertising the gathering said. “We hope joining our hearts and voices with other American Christians on Flag Day will renew our commitment to the freedoms proclaimed in the American Revolution and in our movement toward becoming ‘a more perfect union.'”

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