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Severna Park peaceful protest for change marches on Benfield Road, encountering we back blue rally

More than 100 people attended a rally against police brutality Sunday in Severna Park and marched from Severna Park High School down Benfield Road to a 7-Eleven on Jumpers Hole Road.
More than 100 people attended a rally against police brutality Sunday in Severna Park and marched from Severna Park High School down Benfield Road to a 7-Eleven on Jumpers Hole Road. (Donovan Conaway / Capital Gazette)

A group of protesters against police brutality marched down Benfield Road in Severna Park Sunday before crossing paths with another group that was rallying to support police.

The two groups walked toward each other on opposite sides of the street, with the former starting at Severna Park High and the latter at the 7-Eleven on Jumpers Hole Road, before meeting and causing a traffic jam. Both groups were chanting their separate sayings, “black lives matter,” “no justice, no peace,” and “we back blue.”

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Over 100 people showed up for the “Peaceful protest for change” that started at Severna Park High School. The crowd was predominantly white, diverse in age, ranging from middle school kids to people in their 70s.

Matthew English and Dylan DiMaggio, Severna Park residents, and Emma Dye, of Glen Burnie, organized the rally, which was aimed against police brutality.

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“We have witnessed and seen the systemic racism in the U.S. and there needs to be a large change and I think it is good to start in the communities,” Dye said. “We want to show that cops need to be held responsible and accountable for their actions. Police brutality is something awful and needs to change.”

DiMaggio said it took a lot of networking and social media presence to put together the rally.

“We feel like this town needed this and we haven’t seen any marches or protests here,” DiMaggio said.

Before the march started, they knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the same amount of time a white Minneapolis police officer knelt on a Black man’s neck. George Floyd’s death sparked outrage across the country.

A "we back blue" rally marched down Benfield Road in Severna Park in opposition to a peaceful protest rally that lined the other side of the roadway.
A "we back blue" rally marched down Benfield Road in Severna Park in opposition to a peaceful protest rally that lined the other side of the roadway. (Donovan Conaway / Capital Gazette)

While the group was kneeling, Robert Potcner, who attended the we back blue rally, drove into the Severna Park High School parking lot where they were and shouted insults at the group using a megaphone before driving away.

The we back blue rally, which had at least 50 attendees, started at the 7-Eleven and headed to the high school.

Anne Arundel police were present to close roadways and guide them along.

Sgt. Cam Cooke wanted both groups of protesters to know they protect all citizens and it is their First Amendment right.

“We entrust our youth to be leaders and if someone feels so passionate about a movement they should go the right way about expressing the way they feel,” Cooke said.

Tim Fazenbaker, Baltimore County resident, attended the we back blue rally in support of the police and their jobs.

“I want to stand for people that stand for us, this is about police families and police lives. We don’t want people to stereotype officers for the actions of few,” Fazenbaker said.

Fazenbaker said he looks at the black lives matter movement as anti-American but said he is against police brutality.

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The police kept the two groups separated and no incidents happened while they passed each other.

Two groups of protesters paths cross on Benfield Road in Severna Park Sunday as one marched for change and against police brutality and the other marched in support of police.
Two groups of protesters paths cross on Benfield Road in Severna Park Sunday as one marched for change and against police brutality and the other marched in support of police. (Donovan Conaway / Capital Gazette)

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