There was a Blue Lives Matter rally at Friendship-West Baptist Church in southern Dallas last weekend. On Sunday, of all days.
The church has a prominent Black Lives Matter banner displayed on its facade, and its music department has longtime ties with noted soul artists such as Shaun Martin and RC Williams. The Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes III says the event organizers misled the church to believe it would be holding a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Instead, a fleet of cars showed up with an opposing message: to support police and the Confederacy.
Friendship-West Baptist posted a video of the demonstration, which showed several vehicles lined up in the church’s parking lot with "Trump 2020" signs. A woman filming the video can be heard telling demonstrators, “This was not approved by the church. They are being told to leave the property immediately.”
A statement posted to the church’s website reads: “Today we experienced deceit, hate and an attempt at intimidation from a large group of individuals in support of Donald Trump. The meet up where individuals flew Trump 2020 flags and a Confederate Flag [sic] on our parking lot was quickly asked to shut it down and leave.”
The church also put out a statement on its Facebook page: “An individual contacted us in need of meeting space for a Black Lives Matter Rally. In support of the movement, we agreed to allow the Black Lives Matter Rally [to] happen in our parking lot. The rally turned out to be a Blue Lives Matters meet up where individuals flew Trump 2020 flags and a Confederate Flag. Once we realized the deceit and false information, our staff and Senior Pastor, Dr. Frederick Douglass Haynes III, immediately asked the individuals to shut it down and leave."
Haynes also made several videos he posted to the church's Facebook page. In an update, he explained that the group presented itself as a Black Lives Matter protest and that the church granted them permission to rally in their parking lot only under that premise.
“Number one, we were lied to. Number two, what they did after lying was to engage in intimidation,” Haynes says in one video.
The pastor also says in the same video that pro-Trump and Confederate flags are contrary to the church's values.
“And you know that ain’t welcome on the campus of Friendship-West," he said. "We have a big Black Lives Matter sign; our ministry and mission reflect that, so you are not gonna come to Oak Cliff and intimidate us.
“At this point, if you ain’t saying ‘Black Lives Matter,’ you might as well have a Klan rally.”
That video has now been viewed more than 240,000 times.
Other Facebook users posted videos at the rally, calling it a “white supremacy” effort. Several supporters of the church are seen on live videos rallying around Haynes as he explains what happened.
Jamil Byrom, who plays drums at the church, posted on his Facebook page: “I think what happened at church today is the equivalent of having a cross burned in your yard.”
The musician says he was heading to his car after leaving service Sunday when he noticed a "large number of white bikers making themselves at home in the church parking lot."
Byrom says he initially saw around 25 motorcycles, but that the crowd soon got much larger and demonstrators were "swinging Trump and Confederate flags on a predominantly Black parking lot."
"We did not have a 'Blue Lives Matter' event, we had an invasion of private property by a white supremacist group 'disguised' as Blue Lives Matter," he says.
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Staff at Friendship-West Baptist did not immediately return our request for comment.
Dallas City Council member Tennell Atkins released a statement about the incident on Monday:
“I want to thank the community and elected officials who came out in support of Friendship West Baptist Church on Sunday, after a Back the Blue group entered the church’s parking lot,” it read. “In the words of the legendary Congressman John Lewis, ‘When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, say something, do something. Get in trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble.' That is how our community responded.”