Ohio clashes

A Black Lives Matter protest of around 80 people in a tiny Ohio town which is home to just 13 black residents was overrun by 700 white counterprotesters armed with rifles, handguns and baseball bats at the weekend. 

Heavily armed white men and women from motorcycle gangs and ‘back the blue’ groups flocked to the small town of Bethel on Sunday shouting ‘Blue lives matter!’ and ‘All lives matter!’

They faced off with the small group of village residents who had been demonstrating peacefully calling for an end to systemic racism and police brutality across America. 

Shocking video footage showed a BLM protester being surrounded and violently punched in the back of the head by a counterprotester in front of two cops who stood by and did nothing. 

Clashes between the two groups persisted for a second day Monday, leading the police chief to declare a curfew for the population of just 2,828 and several people were arrested. Shocking video footage showed a protester being surrounded and violently punched in the back of the head by a counterprotester in front of two cops who stood by and did nothing

Shocking video footage showed a protester being surrounded and violently punched in the back of the head by a counterprotester in front of two cops who stood by and did nothing

Sunday’s demonstration was planned by Bethel’s Solidarity with Black Lives group as a peaceful affair and was expected to draw in around 25 people, showing solidarity with the movement to end racial inequality.  

However, it amassed to around 800 people as 80 protesters found themselves confronted by around 700 members of motorcycle groups, Back the Blue organizations and Second Amendment advocates.  

The counterprotesters – many of whom are believed to have come from out of town – were pictured with rifles, bats and clubs slung over their shoulders while some wore Donald Trump t-shirts. 

They yelled ‘Blue lives matter!’ and ‘All lives matter!’ and allegedly threatened the protesters and ripped Black Lives Matter signs out of their hands. 

Around 250 motorcycles were used to take over the protest area, forcing out the demonstrators. 

Peaceful protesters accused the group of inciting ‘hate and violence’, with one demonstrator being punched in the head and 10 ‘incidents’ now under investigation by local police.   

Horrifying footage circulated on social media shows cops standing by and taking no action as a peaceful protester is punched in the head by one of the counterprotesters. 

Police break up a fist fight between a protester and counter protester Monday. A Black Lives Matter protest of around 80 people in a tiny Ohio town home to just 13 black residents was overrun by 700 white counterprotesters armed with rifles, handguns and baseball bats

Police break up a fist fight between a protester and counter protester Monday. A Black Lives Matter protest of around 80 people in a tiny Ohio town home to just 13 black residents was overrun by 700 white counterprotesters armed with rifles, handguns and baseball bats Clashes between the two groups persisted for a second day Monday at the protest above. Heavily armed white men and women from motorcycle gangs and 'back the blue' groups flocked to Bethel shouting 'Blue lives matter!' and 'All lives matter!' and facing off with the small group of village residents demonstrating peacefully

Clashes between the two groups persisted for a second day Monday at the protest above. Heavily armed white men and women from motorcycle gangs and ‘back the blue’ groups flocked to Bethel shouting ‘Blue lives matter!’ and ‘All lives matter!’ and facing off with the small group of village residents demonstrating peacefully

In the shocking video, a man is seen walking through the crowds of armed counterprotesters and coming to a stop nearby.

He stands not responding to the crowd as they come up close to his face and shout at him.

A man wearing a confederate flag bandanna then comes up behind him and punches him in the back of the head.

At least one cop is seen both in front of the victim and behind him – yet neither move in to arrest the attacker or to protect the victim who has just been assaulted.  

Bethel Chief of Police Steve Teague appeared to defend the actions of his cops saying during a virtual council meeting Monday that the attention of the officer in front of the victim had been pulled away.

The victim initially decided not to press charges but by Monday decided he would go ahead with charges and the an arrest warrant was filed for the suspect, Teague said. In the shocking video, a man is seen walking through the crowds of armed counterprotesters. He stands not responding to the crowd as they come up close to his face and shout at him

In the shocking video, a man is seen walking through the crowds of armed counterprotesters. He stands not responding to the crowd as they come up close to his face and shout at himAt least one cop is seen both in front of the victim (left) and behind him - yet neither move in to arrest the attacker or to protect the victim who has just been assaulted

At least one cop is seen both in front of the victim (left) and behind him – yet neither move in to arrest the attacker or to protect the victim who has just been assaulted

In another image on social media, a second protester is pictured with blood on his face after he was reportedly ‘sucker-punched from behind.’   

No arrests were made Sunday, although Village Administrator Travis Dotson said this was because the tiny town’s six police officers were too overwhelmed by the sudden uprising to take people into custody. 

Five people were arrested Monday as the clashes entered a second day and Clermont County Sheriff’s Office deputies and Ohio State Highway Patrol troopers were drafted in to support the local cops, Teague confirmed.

Teague said he was in ‘shock’ at the events in the tiny town –  where a staggering 97 percent of all residents are white and just 13 black people live there, according to US Census estimates.  

‘If you would’ve asked me a week ago if any of this would come to Bethel, I would’ve said never,’ Teague told Fox 19.  

‘I’m still kind of in shock of it being here.’ In another image on social media, a second protester is pictured with blood on his face after he was reportedly 'sucker-punched from behind'

In another image on social media, a second protester is pictured with blood on his face after he was reportedly ‘sucker-punched from behind’

Large swathes of the counterprotesters were thought to have come from out of town, with motorbikes seen carrying out-of-state license plates both days. 

Calls to arms were then spotted on social media Monday urging out-of-towners to descend on the town and cause unrest, threatening to ‘take care of what they didn’t take care of yesterday’.

‘It’s kind of amazing how quick social media spreads,’ Teague told Fox 19 Monday. 

‘We were told this morning they were busing in protesters. We’re given screen shots from social media with some guns saying, “We’re going to Bethel, we’ll take care of what they didn’t take care of yesterday.”‘  

Bethel Mayor Jay Noble condemned the violence in a statement Monday.

‘I am completely against behavior that is illegal or infringes on any American’s constitutional rights. Some of the law-breaking behavior that we have seen over the last couple of days is appalling and disgusting and does not reflect the values of our community,’ he said. 

One councilman, Ron Dunn, thanked the Black Lives Matters protesters for exercising restraint when the counterprotesters were showing ‘hatred’ toward them.

‘To have such hatred and filthy things spewed at you and just to take it is very foreign to most people,’ Dunn said. 

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