Story and Photos by Ty O’Neil, Video by Don Dike-Anukam
This Is Reno spoke with Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong on the Monday and Tuesday following this protest regarding both incidents described in this story, and reviewed video footage of the pedestrian vs. vehicle incident. The pedestrian was cited in the incident. Read the follow-up report here. Sheriff Furlong announced on Sept. 3 that Grant McBeth of Sparks was arrested for a charge of negligent discharge of a firearm in public.
Carson City has been the site of a number of Black Lives Matter protests over the past several months, but Saturday’s was the first one since the volatile protest in Douglas County on Aug. 8 where BLM supporters were overwhelmed, spit on, screamed at and accosted by counter-protesters.
BLM protesters gathered in front of the Nevada State Capitol to continue their support for the social movement and, now, to demand justice for Jacob Blake, a Black man shot seven times by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The protest kicked off at 2 p.m. and continued until sunset, with the bulk of the activities remaining peaceful. Two incidents near the end of the day, however, spoke to the tensions within the community.
The first incident was what Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong called an accidental discharge of a firearm. A BLM supporter on capitol grounds released a single round from an AK-47-type weapon slung on his shoulder sending the round into the sky.
The incident was caught on camera by This Is Reno’s Don Dike-Anukam who was interviewing a protest participant nearby when the gun went off. The shot drew immediate attention, but bystanders remained calm while Carson City Sheriff’s deputies and and Nevada Capitol Police immediately poured out of the legislative building and surrounding areas.
The individual who mistakenly discharged the weapon was cooperative and apologetic. The weapon was taken by police. While he was not taken into custody, he may face charges. He spoke briefly about the incident in the video above.
A second incident occurred as BLM protesters began wrapping up their day and leaving the event. A caravan of vehicles with Trump 2020 and QAnon flags arrived and began honking at BLM protesters and slowing traffic. While noisy, little confrontation took place.
The situation quickly changed.
BLM protester Brittany Kindersmith, who helped to organize Carson City’s July 4 BLM protest, was crossing South Carson Street in a marked crosswalk when a silver SUV slowly crept forward until it made physical contact with her. After being struck by the vehicle, Kindersmith turned to confront the driver who then turned the vehicle’s tires toward Kindersmith and accelerated sharply. Kindersmith, who was near the driver’s side bumper, was knocked to the ground.
Kindersmith received scuff marks on her legs and a hurt wrist, but she said she was otherwise okay. She made a statement to Carson City Sheriff’s deputies, who said they and the Carson City District Attorney would be reviewing video of the incident captured on cameras at the nearby capitol buildings.
The driver of the SUV was pulled over by law enforcement down the street from the incident.
The protest activities began earlier in the day with BLM supporters lining up along Carson Street holding signs in support of the movement and Jacob Blake, and in memory of Black people killed by police, including Sparks’ Miciah Lee, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and others.
Peaceful activities were urged by organizers, who posted a sign that read, “Protest peacefully. Anyone promoting violence or destruction of property will be assumed to be a fascist instigator!”
The recent loss of actor Chadwick Boseman, who is known for his numerous roles as pioneering Black Americans and as T’Challa in “Black Panther,” was recognized by participants who knelt and chanted “Wakanda forever,” a line from the film. Boseman died Friday, August 28, of colon cancer.
BLM protesters outnumbered counter-protesters, who waved Trump 2020 flags, the Gadsden flag, the QAnon flag and early American flags.
After 4 p.m., BLM protesters moved from the sun to a shaded spot on the capitol grounds to talk about upcoming elections, goals for the local movement and support of the Douglas County Library.
The group was quickly surrounded by the counter-protesters, who said they were coming in to “protect” a nearby police officer memorial. The memorial has, over the past several months, been patrolled by local activists concerned that it might be damaged or destroyed.
Sheriff Furlong said that he was pleased with his department’s response to the days’ events and that no one was seriously injured. He said that the department has been working on their response to protests since early May when armed Nevada protesters angrily marched to the governor’s mansion.
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.