Collective and personal moments of fear have flared up in almost every protest across Missouri: bottles hurled, police press in, shots fired, tear gas launched and angry words spat in the faces of state troopers. Even as thousands filed onto Jefferson City streets in a peaceful march, a flashback to Charlottesville, Virginia and a car moving through the crowd, stopped one would-be protester in his tracks.
With the street filled, a van moved into the rally crowd with a confederate flag hanging from its rear-view window. Jefferson City resident Michael Mayes parted the crowd, frantically pleading with marchers to stay clear of the car and then returned to his own car and wept.
We spoke to him and his companion Dorothy — both African-American — as they chose to stay in their car and Michael tried to regain his composure.
LISTEN TO THEIR FULL COMMENTS:
“Before this, I was all for this in a peaceful order, but it’s just very hard to maintain the feelings,” Mayes said. “He knows what that flag means.”
Dorothy offered a historical perspective, “It always takes something like this. We’re an after-the-fact society. We didn;t get guard rails until one hundred people flew off [the road], we didn’t have Amber Alerts until we lost a thousand kids. And we’re not going to have anything here until society deems enough is enough and then we’ll have some things in place, but I don’t know. I don’t know if we can even win this.”
Later that night, two protesters were hit by cars in nearby Columbia.