The second Black Lives Matter protest in Caerphilly town happened on Saturday, June 20 – and it passed without incident.
The peaceful protest – highlighting racial inequality after the death of George Floyd in the US – had around 60 people in attendance.
Protests in other parts of the country have led to statues being torn down and fears over the safety of war memorials.
The first Black Lives Matter protest in Caerphilly on June 6 also passed without incident, but there were fears the Cenotaph in the town could be vandalised.
This is Caerphilly. Not London.
There was never any real danger of the Cenotaph being vandalised by protesters – not in a million years. Caerphilly is better than that.
But pictures in the national media of so-called protesters in London attempting to burn flags and damage the Cenotaph in the UK capital heightened anxiety that a similar thing could happen in Caerphilly.
A group of four ex-Welsh Guards, no doubt with good intentions, decided to keep a watchful eye and nothing happened.
However, suspicion between the veterans and BLM protesters had set in and this was only agitated by a Facebook post made in the days leading up to the second protest.
It read: “Let’s protect our cenotaph and not let anyone vandalise our war heroes! Apparently 400-500 are going for a BLM protest let’s hope for a better turnout to shield our heroes memories.”
This post was divisive in setting up veterans against BLM protesters. Us versus them. It was repugnant and unhelpful.
Now the veterans who did attend, I’m sure, were not there to stir up trouble or antagonise – they were probably there out of worry.
This legitimate emotion is often exploited by those on the far-right to sow division and discord and must not be allowed to prosper.
Judging by comments made on social media since the second protest, the veterans and BLM protesters now seem to be communicating with each other.
This is how division and hate are conquered. We would be wise to remember this in an age where wilful misinformation and mistaken intent are all too often rife.
Richard Gurner is Publisher and Editor of Caerphilly Observer
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