Protesters lined Carson Street Saturday morning in what has become a weekly butting of heads between Black Lives Matter supporters and pro-Trump counter-protesters.
Tensions ran high, another weekly repetition, with groups gathering and cars honking in support of one side and flipping their middle finger to the other. There was little to mark that state legislators were nearby for another day of Nevada’s 31st special session, save for a sign or two.
On occasion, eagle-eyed attendees would notice a Nevada lawmaker poking their head out of the all-but-locked down capitol building to see what was going on or to have a smoke.
Assembly member Edgar Flores (D-Las Vegas) did venture out to speak with Black Lives Matter supporters. He even took a mic and chanted with the crowd, “Say his name,” to which the crowd replied, “Miciah Lee,” referring to a young man who was shot and killed by Sparks Police officers in January.
Conspiracy theorists, who have turned out to these weekly protests in increasingly larger numbers and have become more outspoken, were also in attendance espousing their various opinions. One sought to explain to Black Lives Matter protesters that the “real issue” is that “Jews are running the country,” and another claimed that the video of George Floyd’s death at the hands of police was faked.
Some yelled at press members and others to “take off your masks” claiming they are signs of government oppression. QAnon believers sought to spread word that Hillary Clinton sells or eats Black children, while others yelled that Black Lives Matter is a George Soros-funded fascist movement.
The events of Saturday reached a crescendo when a silver truck waving a Trump flag was stopped in the road by Black Lives Matter protesters. A honking and screaming match ensued as cars backed up on Carson Street. Two men, who identified themselves as Black, yelled at protesters and members of the media to clear the road. One carried an AR-15 and a sign reading “#BLM abolish the ATF.” Both men yelled and motioned until the silver pickup was able to continue in traffic.
Arguments did not stop there; shouting and shoving continued to the sidewalk. A Black Lives Matter protester shouted “traitor” at the man with the gun, resulting in the two men coming face to face just a few inches apart. Despite the heated exchange, others stepped in and separated the two men.
While the protest continued without issue, many chose to depart and protester numbers shrank on both sides.
Ty O’Neil is a lifelong student of anthropology with two degrees in the arts. He is far more at home in the tear gas filled streets of war torn countries than he is relaxing at home. He has found a place at This Is Reno as a photojournalist. He hopes to someday be a conflict photojournalist covering wars and natural disasters abroad.