An excitement over the possibility of a group of Black Lives Matter activists coming to Monroe’s Pioneer Day parade was a hot topic on many people’s social media feeds last week.

It was much made about nothing, but that didn’t stop people from inundating local police agencies with calls.

The person who was blamed for inviting a BLM group to the area said while he sympathizes with the group’s aims, he didn’t issue an invitation. 

Some were afraid that if a group came to Monroe, it would erupt into a riot. 

Looking at it through a clear lens, it seems rather far-fetched that thousands, or even hundreds, of people would come to a town so far away from any urban center simply to riot. The reason the protests occur in large cities is because that is where the large audiences are. There’s not an NBC, ABC, CBS, Fox News or CNN affiliate in Monroe to convey the message protesters want to make. 

While there have been riots and destruction, there have also been peaceful protests across this country. 

Had a group of BLM protestors participated in the parade, it shouldn’t have been treated as a big deal. Until someone actually does something destructive, everyone has the right to free speech and expression in the United States. Also, the sheriff’s office was well aware of the rumors and had contingencies in place that wouldn’t require the help of vigilantes.

It doesn’t matter if someone says something you disagree with; they have the right to express it. 

It doesn’t matter if they are protesting for the BLM or flying a Confederate flag, people should have that right without fear of physical retaliation.

Yes, many are offended by the idea put forth by protestors that the police are largely racist and out to get people of color. Clearly those times when protests have turned into riots have no doubt hurt the cause the BLM supports in many people’s eyes.

However, others see using a Confederate flag as a symbol supporting the undeniable sin of slavery — deeply offensive. Some wonder why one displays a symbol that belonged to traitors who caused the most destructive war in terms of human casualties this country has ever seen. Traitors who were defeated.

Even if a group of BLM activist wanted to show up and be in the parade, so what? Acting as though the BLM is some type of boogeyman reinforces some pretty negative stereotypes about rural America. We’re better than that.

As it turns out, it was much made out of nothing — social media rumors repeated and reposted. The lesson learned is not to take everything, or possibly anything, one reads on social media at face value. 

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