Dueling Protests draw Hundreds in Goshen
GOSHEN, Ind. - After being critical of government mandated mask policies, Embassy Coffee Goshen Owner Chris May found himself in front surrounded by a large crowd Saturday. His comments sparked two protests outside of his coffee shop on Lincoln Avenue. One protest was a Black Lives Matter protest accusing May of being critical of Black Lives Matter and a pro mask rally. The other was a group supporting May and his coffee shop.
"Black lives do matter," said John Johnston, a friend and supporter of May. "But I feel like the movement has been sidetracked and taken advantage of. So, there's a lot more of a sinister, globalistic force out there that I want to resist and stand against."
Johnston and his fellow rally goers said they were not opposed to facemasks but they'd rather the wearing of one be up to individuals as opposed to the government.
"I don't have a strong 'Don't wear a mask' kind of mentality," Johnston said. "I wear a mask sometimes at work if I go into somebody's house. I do service work for people. So, it's not that I came because I have hatred for wearing a mask, but more of a sense of I do love the freedoms to have your own responsibility of if I'm going to wear a mask or not going to wear a mask."
Across the street were Black Lives Matter protesters. They wanted to send a message of unity and broader support of the First Amendment.
"They claim to care about freedom of speech except for when it disagrees with them politically," said Black Lives Matter South Bend Co-founder and John Adams High School Junior Gelasius Martin De Poorres-Morgan. "We're here to stand for, of course, freedom of speech and just unity."
Indiana 22nd House District Representative Curt Nisly who went to the protest to "listen to both sides" said both groups need to learn how to come together and talk to each other because both have valid arguments for their respective sides.
"On the other side of the street, we see that they have genuine grievances with actions of law enforcement, and I agree with them on a lot of those things," the Republican representative said. "But on this side of the street, we see government control of businesses, shutting down businesses and so forth. So, there are legitimate grievances on both sides."
Embassy Coffee Shop Owner Chris May declined to be interviewed for this story, but inside his shop, his employees were wearing masks. There was a group of armed people at the protest. They said they were only there to help make sure the protests stayed peaceful.