The Tri-Valley chapter of the Black Lives Matter movement held a sign garden protest on Nov. 15 in response to a Dublin resident threatening Denel McMahan, a 17-year-old Dublin resident and leader of the Black Student Union at Dublin High School. Hundreds of Tri-Valley residents attended as well as new Dublin Mayor Melissa Hernandez and Dublin Unified School District Interim Superintendent Daniel R. Moriao.
On Nov. 9, Dublin resident Mike Grant posted in an alt right Facebook group that he had concerns over the Black Lives Matter Tri-Valley chapter holding events in Dublin and also posted a picture of McMahan, insinuating that he was a “Black Lives Matter thug.” The post also called on local far right wing groups to attend and disrupt the sign garden event.
Activists from around the Bay Area gathered at the event to show their support for the McMahan family. Oakland activist and community organizer Chaney Turner and San Francisco State graduate and political activist Ramona Tascoe were both keynote speakers at the event.
Though there was some expected resistance to the sign garden event, Grant sent a formal apology to the McMahan family, and there were no far right wing groups protesting the event.
“Mike Grant mentioned in his apology that he meant no harm in the post and said that I, a 17-year-old boy, changed the mindset of a 65-year-old man. And while that could or could not be sincere, I see that as a victory,” said McMahon.
The event also included a chance for those in attendance to create a sign that would be placed outside the Dublin Civic Center. Many signs included slogans like “Say Their Name” or “Black Lives Matter.”
Speakers at the event denounced Grant’s actions and said that it was wrong and inappropriate that Grant threatened a 17-year-old child.
“Our community was upset that a white supremacist is threatening the life of a Black child. How low of a human being can you be to feel threatened by a peaceful action that Denel has put together,” said Turner.
Dublin residents were also given the platform to speak at the event. Dublin resident Regis Harvey spoke about the importance of keeping the community together for the greater good. He said, “For us to move forward and be as one family, we must keep the community together and show love to everyone.”
The McMahan family addressed the crowd, saying that they were proud of their son for handling the situation the way he did and thanking the community for their support. They also stated that Denel would be sitting down with Grant sometime in the future to have a conversation about their differences.
The Black Lives Matter group that organized the event pushed for the conversation about police brutality against African Americans to continue even after the wave of protests that occurred in the summer. Leaders of the group emphasized the need for conversation to continue even in a suburb like Dublin.
“I will continue to fight because Black Lives Matter is a human rights issue. The way you think and the political policies that you agree with should not bar you from recognizing the concept of police brutality is a plague to this nation,” said McMahan.
Nathan Canilao is the editor-in-chief of The Express. Follow him @nathancanilao.