The woman who was surrounded by Black Lives Matter protesters in a viral video has condemned their ‘bullying’ tactics and admitted that she ‘felt fear’, but insisted it has not affected her support for the movement.
Lauren B. Victor, a 49-year-old urban planner, was aggressively heckled by marchers on August 24, while she was dining with a friend in the Adams Morgan district of Washington D.C.
Footage, which showed the demonstrators yelling at Victor, quickly went viral.
Victor was shouted at by white protesters outside a restaurant in DC. Footage, which showed the demonstrators yelling at Victor, quickly went viral
Lauren B. Victor, a 49-year-old urban planner, was aggressively heckled by marchers on August 24
Writing in the Washington Post, Victor said it was ‘never okay to coerce people’s participation’ and described the tactic as ‘bullying’.
She added that she did not see any protest signs when the group approached her table and it was unclear what they were demonstrating against.
‘I asked who they were and why they were marching. No one would answer me. Why march and hold back your message?’ she said.
Victor, a MBA graduate of Columbia Business School, explained that it was the protesters’ insistence that she participate in something she didn’t understand that stopped her from raising her hand in solidarity.
‘If you want my support, ask it of me freely. That’s what we do in a democracy,’ she said.
She admitted that the video looks ‘scary’ and she had felt ‘fear’ in that moment.
However the experience has not affected her ‘wholehearted’ support for the Black Lives Matter movement and Victor has participated in marches since then.
‘I have actively participated in protests since this event. I have experienced nothing coercive from my fellow protesters, nor toward bystanders,’ she said.
On the night of the incident, the crowd had come together to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin.
Protesters walked through Washington DC on August 24 to protest the shooting of Jacob Blake
Blake was shot seven times in the back by officer Rusten Sheskey while trying to get into his car, where his three children were sat.
Protesters gathered outside restaurants, alternately accusing diners of enjoying ‘white privilege’ and encouraging them to show support for their protest.
As they moved into the Adams Morgan district, the unrest continued, with Victor’s table outside a Mexican restaurant, Los Cuates, being singled out.
White protesters were reportedly encouraged to go to the front, to challenge their fellow caucasians.
‘White silence is violence!’ protesters chanted, many with fists in the air.
‘Are you a Christian?’ a protester demanded, yelling into her face, before others demanded she raise her fist.
Victor refused, even after her dining companion complied.
She said she felt that it was wrong for hundreds of people to surround a small group of diners, approach them with their hands raised, and try to cow them into making a show of support.
A large crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters accosted white diners outside several Washington, D.C. restaurants on August 24, demanding that they raise their fists to show solidarity with the movement
Many on Twitter took issue with Black Lives Matter protesters accosting Victor.
Others stated that it would turn people away from supporting the movement.
‘You don’t win supporters by screaming in people’s faces and intimidating them. How many people have watched this video and been turned off? Is it about making a real change or just ego gratification?
Another bluntly theorized: ‘This gives Trump four more years.’
There has been overwhelming public support for Black Lives Matter protests, which have been taking place across the country following the death of unarmed black man George Floyd on Memorial Day.
However, there have been instances where some have questioned whether the movement’s leaders have gone too far in trying to subordinate both supporters and passersby.