Peaceful protesters who kneel every day at noon in Norris Park say they feel motivated more than intimidated after seeing Wednesday’s riots at the U.S. Capitol.
Retired Northeastern State University Professor Dr. John Yeutter and Stanley Swain can be seen every weekday in Norris Park, where they’ll kneel for 15 minutes.
The intent of the peaceful protest is to bring calm to the community and the country, while seeking justice for racial discrimination and police brutality.
On Thursday, Jan. 7, Yeutter and Swain agreed they both feel some concern that what occurred at the U.S. Capitol could happen in Tahlequah – or to them specifically – while they send their silent message.
“It could definitely happen here, and we’re not in the urban center, but for me, this is where [Ku Klux] Klan members thrive,” said Swain. “We’re in a red state and we’re in the country. They have to come from the country to come to the city to do stuff.”
Swain said that what some are calling a domestic terrorism incident didn’t intimidate him, nor would it keep him from protesting.
“Just the fact that one person was scared means that I didn’t have a choice but to come,” said Swain. “The fact that one person was thinking about being deterred just made it set in stone that I was going to be here.”
While the demonstrators have watchful protectors with them every day to ensure no harm will come to him, Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King was also keeping an eye on the group Thursday.
“We’re blessed to have not had to deal with [violence] in Tahlequah,” said King. “Even from our first demonstration, they’ve all been demonstrations of peace and a place where people can exercise their First Amendment rights.”
Yeutter said they will stay committed to letting people know there is a force for real change and real justice in the community.
“I have a little bit of concern, but it’s going to take a bigger threat than what happened yesterday to stop us,” said Yeutter. “I support anyone’s right to voice their concerns and their points in a peaceful way. Acting lawlessly and violently is not behavior anyone should find acceptable.”