KINGMAN — Two young Kingman women staging a Black Lives Matter protest say they’ve received death threats on social media.
Shai Weaver and Naysha Powell said they have encountered resistance as they plan a peaceful assembly at Locomotive Park from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. today and from 2 to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Weaver said they’ve been taking screen shots of the threats and turning them over to local law enforcement officials. She said one encouraged citizens to arm themselves and use the demonstrators for target practice and sniper fire.
“We are aware of that and we are following up on those,” Kingman Police Chief Rusty Cooper said of the threats.
“We’re certainly monitoring social media. We’re hearing about the same things you mentioned. We are gearing up for the worst and hoping for the best,” said Mohave County sheriff Doug Schuster. “It’s the people’s right to protest and we’re here to support that as long as they don’t cross the line and turn that protest into looting and rioting. That will not be tolerated and we’ll shut them down as quickly as we can.”
Weaver said she and Powell have assured law enforcement that they will pull the plug on the protest if it goes awry. Schuster said he’s worried more about outsiders than he is Weaver and Powell.
“I do have a concern that outside influence may rear its ugly head as you’ve seen in other locations,” the sheriff said. Schuster and Cooper said officers visited Walmart on several occasions over the course of several hours on Sunday when it was rumored that a bus full of people had arrived intending to riot.
“We didn’t receive anything official. Everything we got was coming third- and fourth-hand,” Cooper said.
“We heard about a bus load of Antifa in the Walmart parking lot and within 10 minutes our staff is looking in the Walmart parking lot and we’re not seeing it,” Schuster said.
The police chief and sheriff said their officers were not able to substantiate the bus rumor.
Antifa is a political protest movement of groups affiliated by a militant opposition to fascism and other forms of extreme right-wing ideology.
Weaver and Powell said they don’t belong to any radical groups. They said they just want to provide a venue to protest injustice across America.
“I am tired of sitting around, sitting at home, watching when African Americans die at the hands of the people that are supposed to protect, who are sworn to protect us,” Powell said. “It’s personal to me because I’m a minority myself. I am raising a black son. I have black brothers, so this feels close to home. I’ve lived in the community of Kingman and I’ve felt the racism. Not only am I African American, I’m also half Hualapai. So it comes from both sides for me.”