BROKEN BOW—Protesters seek to spread awareness and promote action during a Black Lives Matter protest held in the Broken Bow city square on Sunday, June 7.
Lincoln resident Amy Kinman lived in Broken Bow during formative years of her young adult life (ages 19-27) and she returned to Broken Bow on Sunday to peacefully protest and try to spark action against racism.
“I just really thought I should show up, I should speak out on behalf of those people who don’t feel supported or seen,” Kinman said. “That community [Broken Bow] has been a huge part of my foundation and that is why I chose to go back and speak up for folks. I didn’t mean to offend anyone that was there but I’m really hoping that it starts a lot more people having some self-reflection and then maybe that will cause them to take some action of their own.”
In an interview with KCNI/KBBN, Kinman said she was disappointed that she had not seen local leadership or law enforcement speak up to acknowledge or condemn the current situation in our country surrounding racism and police brutality.
Protesters—both local and from out of town—wanted to be public with their message and Kinman said while posting on Facebook spreads awareness, she said it is important to get out of your comfort zone and let people of color in the community know they are supported.
“But mainly it was for the children that live in that community. There are kids that go to school there that also have seen their likeliness murdered on TV and I wanted them to know and to hopefully drive by, or have their families come through or whatever was the case, I just wanted them to know that people do show up, that the world is not like that, that they’re safe in their home, that they’re welcome in this community,” Kinman said.
When asked how protesters responded to people who approached the ladies in the city square saying racism does not exist in Broken Bow or ‘all lives matter,’ Kinman had this to say:
“Unfortunately because the way this country was built and us being a product of how it was built being Caucasian—we’re not in a position to say when there isn’t racism because we’re the ones who perpetuate it unfortunately,” Kinman told KCNI/KBBN.
“We were told, yelled at ‘all lives matter’ which is completely missing the point. What we responded with was absolutely every life matters–that was never our argument. We’re not here to say that one is more important than the other but we are here to highlight the fact of what’s going on in this present moment happens to affect people of color more,” she added.
As for other people who approached the protesters, Kinman said one man and a young boy yelled at the protesters through their car window, people accused them of causing divisiveness, but Kinman said another man brought them water on Sunday afternoon.
Kinman said all the protesters were privileged white women who have not had the experiences of black people or other people of color. She said a person is never too old to change his/her ways and even though it is uncomfortable to reflect on stereotypes and jokes about racism that have become normalized, it is important to acknowledge offensive behaviors in order to change the future.
KCNI/KBBN reached out to the Broken Bow Police Department and Custer County Sheriff’s Office for comment but they declined to comment at this time. We have not heard back from Broken Bow Mayor Rod Sonnichsen at this time. Custer County Supervisors Chairman Barry Fox said while he cannot speak on behalf of the board, he would like to share his perspective which is stated below.
“Custer County takes pride in being a community where everyone can succeed and flourish. We have strived and continue to strive to be a place of inclusivity and caring for our fellow man. Racism is not and will not be tolerated in our community and we want to build an atmosphere and environment where all people are heard regardless of race. The leadership in Custer County and the business community is always open to hearing of any individual resident’s experiences and we will work as a community to find solutions. We are a small community which gives our residents the ability to have their voices heard. We all know each other and share the same struggles. We are neighbors, we are friends and we will take care of each other. This town and this county is our community and we strive to take care of it and the people that live here. I would like to encourage any individuals that have experienced anything other than friendly, courteous and inclusive behavior to call or email.” –Barry Fox, Chairman Custer County Board of Supervisors