Content warning for mentions of racist violence by police/community members, tranpshobia, homophobia, reclaimed slur for LGBTQIA+ people
On a cold and rainy Friday afternoon on April 16th, 2021 at the Vietnam War Memorial in Doylestown, 10 to 12 people gathered masked and distanced to take up space and protest the unjust police murders of Black and Brown youth Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright.
Bucks County Anti Racism Coalition coordinated demonstrations both that Friday and Sunday afternoon April 18th, with better weather and a larger turnout at the second protest.
Flanked by several Police SUVs at road barriers and blocked off streets in addition to several officers keeping watch of the demonstration, Bucks Anti Racism Coalition members led chants to say the names of Black lives lost to police terror. A megaphone with a recording made by organizer Kevin E. Leven included the chant “Black Lives Matter Say Their Names.”
When asked about the purpose of the demonstration, organizer Kevin E. Leven said “We’re out here because if I may be honest with you, I’m tired. We are all so weary.” Leven mentioned this demonstration was coordinated right after another one in Philadelphia over the unjust slaying of Christian Hall in Bucks County.
“I turn around and here comes Daunte Wright. I was making my sign the other night and I turn around again and it’s Adam Toledo. It’s blow after blow and it’s non stop. It’s exhausting. It’s mentally draining. I struggled to focus on my job this week because of all of this. You know, enough is enough,” Levin said.
Protestors encouraged drivers to honk in support of Black Lives Matter and justice for Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright, whose names were chanted in addition to the names of Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, George Floyd, Freddie Gray, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Domnique ‘Remmie’ Fells, Tony McDade, and Shantee Tucker. Protestors chanted “Black Queer Lives Matter, Black Trans Lives Matter, Black Non Binary Lives Matter.”
Levin works with the New Hope Solebury schools equity committee. He remarked how members were deliberating amongst themselves about what appropriate action to take where there is a hashtag #name in the news after a murder by a police officer. Some members did not think it prudent to announce names every time in every newsletter or urgent correspondence. Levin said “I finally wrote to the New Hope Solebury Equity Committee and said ‘You know when the appropriate time is? Every time.’ We need to address it every single time.”
Levin organized the protest with Marlene Pray, organizer with Rise Up Doylestown and Larissa Hopwood, candidate for the Doylestown mayoral race, both who were in attendance Friday afternoon. Hopwood talked about her campaign and her support of anti-racist work in the area.
Larissa Hopwood decided to run for mayor in response to the activism surrounding marginalized members of Bucks County. Hopwood recalled an incident in Doylestown where a 16 year old Black girl received racist threats from a social media post. Authorities downplayed the severity of the threats to the student and family. Hopwood recounted anecdotal evidence of people walking past saying statements like “Black lives don’t matter” to Black community members.
Hopwood explained, “This is something a lot of people in town don’t see. They think about the wonderful things. There are wonderful things in Doylestown but our town needs to look at what we want to be and what we actually are. Are we making sure all people of color are welcome and safe here?”
After an angry heckler chanted “Trump Trump Trump” quickly drove by, Hopwood also talked about being an advocate for transgender, non binary, and gender variant youth. Given the recent anti trans legislation in Florida, Hopwood encouraged community members committed to opposing homophobia and transphobia in the community to support diverse candidates for the upcoming local school board race. “If all 5 of the candidates get in, things will change in a positive way. A muslim woman who is a pediatrician and a mental health advocate would be on the board if elected.”
Support spaces for LGBTQIA+ youth such as Rainbow Room Jr., which is part of Rainbow Room in Doylestown and is headed by a non-binary person. Hopwood explained that they’re a small group of kids from 8 to 14 and helped to influence local elementary schools’ commitment to gender inclusivity with regard to bathroom usage by gender variant youth.