FLORENCE, Ala. —Monday evening, a counter-protester shoved another protester at a demonstration outside of the Lauderdale County courthouse. A woman in green grabbed a protester’s arm and pushed it away as he filmed the demonstration on his cell phone.
Project Say Something Founder, Camille Bennett, said all their protests have been peaceful up until now. “Things changed,” Bennett said. “The counter-protesters were out; they were definitely antagonizing, and they were definitely violent—verbally and physically violent.”
Another counter protester was videoed shouting expletives at multiple protesters, even threatening to mace them.
Bennett said there was a law enforcement presence at the protest but doesn’t understand why the violent counter protesters, like the woman in green, weren’t arrested. “Nothing, absolutely nothing happened to her,” Bennett said. “In fact, she was escorted to her car.”
Sheriff Rick Singleton said the issues began once the two groups gathered around the Confederate monument at the same time. He has a message for any protesters—on either side—who engage in harassment or violent behavior.
“Everyone has their opinion,” Singleton said. “We’re all entitled to have our opinion but just because I don’t agree with your opinion or you don’t agree with my opinion doesn’t mean that gives us a right to make threats—threatening statements and that needs to stop.”
Although no arrests were made, the sheriff said the shouting, threats, and shoving all count as harassment and those individuals can file a police report. He also said there will be an increased law enforcement presence at all future protests to keep the two groups apart.