Friday was Juneteenth, and people gathered all over to celebrate the occasion, which has not yet been made an official federal holiday. Few are taught about Juneteenth in public school, but it is a well-known day in Texas and amongst Black communities. It celebrates the day the Union army came to Galveston and announced federal orders declaring all enslaved people in Texas were now free. They arrived in 1865, two years after the Emancipation Proclamation.
This year, Juneteenth obviously has even greater significance than usual, as protests organized by and for the Black Lives Matter movement have been taking place all over the country. The murder of Minneapolis man George Floyd by Police Officer Derek Chauvin created a long boiling level of outrage over state violence to overflow. People everywhere have been rising up to demand the police be defunded and for that money to be reinvested in the community. It has led to many types of demonstrations, but Juneteenth was in many places a day of community building and connection.
That was the case in Dorchester, Massachusetts, as well. Peaceful gatherers came to a rally to discuss social justice, the end of mass incarceration, and liberation. Unfortunately, reporter Kirsten Glavin tweeted that Trump-supporters and white supremacist protestors showed up to disrupt the event:
Several counter protestors now here at a Juneteenth celebration in Dorchester. Some with Trump flags and signs that say Back The Blue. Many people at the rally seem to be ignoring the small crowd behind the fence.They continue to give speeches & call for racial equality @boston25 pic.twitter.com/SX07LWzoDq— Kirsten Glavin (@kirstenglavin) June 19, 2020
Glavin calls them “counter-protestors,” but it’s not entirely accurate to call Juneteenth celebrants protestors, even if many of them may have been protesting elsewhere in recent weeks. Boston News reports that MA Governor Charlie Baker declared June 19 as “Juneteenth Independence Day” early on Friday, so even if this weren’t already a recognized day of cultural meaning, it is an official holiday in the state.
People at the rally, which remained peaceful, advocated for liberation from mass incarceration, over policing, and state-sanctioned violence. Many calls for defunding the police. The event had symbolic artwork like this on display as well. @boston25 pic.twitter.com/KtDddfG5Cm— Kirsten Glavin (@kirstenglavin) June 19, 2020
The actual protestors at this Juneteenth celebration are these creeps showing up to support cops and chant “All Lives Matter,” and what they’re actually protesting…is the end of slavery. So they’re really showing their whole agenda out in the open like that, as many pointed out. And Dorchester has been doing this for a long time:
It's not a counter-protest, b/c Dorchester's annual Juneteenth event is not a protest. So, what these people are doing is protesting the celebration of Juneteenth. Which, whew, that's a heck of a cause huh. https://t.co/6SKhHkqbZK— David S. Bernstein (@dbernstein) June 19, 2020
And they don't even realize it.😂— kernel panic (@vmlinuz_kernel) June 19, 2020
Oh, they definitely know...— Werewolves Ranchero (@PseudoNic) June 19, 2020
Very true and point on— Nick Belasco (@BelascoNick) June 19, 2020
On point. This is what systemic racism is. Right down to language that no one questions.— QueenBB (@QueenBB30571035) June 20, 2020
Yeah, and they're tired of pretending otherwise.— Sedary Raymaker (@SedaryRaymaker) June 19, 2020
I HAVE A LOT OF WORDS!— Adam Myerson (@AdamMyerson) June 19, 2020
Juneteenth... Supporters?— The Other Bret (@WolfgangTowns) June 19, 2020
That's like calling the Halloween parade "Halloween Supporters", this headline absolutely sucks
A man wearing an "I Can’t Breathe" t-shirt argues with a counter-protestor carrying a Three Per Cent Militia flag at a rally to mark Juneteenth in Boston. Photo by @brian_photog pic.twitter.com/qwCIOncDcq— corinne_perkins (@corinne_perkins) June 19, 2020
Luckily, in this instance, the police of Dorchester actually did their jobs and escorted a few of the rowdiest racist protestors away. Much more gently than we’ve been seeing at other protests, it seems. And the celebration continued, even including a visit from Rep. Ayanna Pressley:
Artist Darren T. Wells repurposed this sculpture to represent both the need to wear masks amid the pandemic and draw attention to racial justice: pic.twitter.com/G2cHj9USz3— Laney Ruckstuhl (@laneyruckstuhl) June 19, 2020
Pressley is declining to speak so she can spend time with community members, organizers say. She just stopped to speak with a young attendee: pic.twitter.com/JJPjKnpadz— Laney Ruckstuhl (@laneyruckstuhl) June 19, 2020
The celebration will go on, just like the protests.