Last Thursday Coatesville, Pennsylvania, was home to what's become a familiar sight: a protest of more than a thousand people chanting "Black Lives Matter" and "I can't breathe."
But Coatesville is no ordinary place for a protest. About an hour drive west of Philadelphia, the old steel town of about 13,000 is a far cry from the liberal metropolises that typically host protests and demonstrations, underscoring the vast breadth of the reignited Black Lives Matter movement and the growing political importance of the suburbs.
"I think people are tired," said James Logan, Coatesville's assistant city manager, in a telephone interview Monday. "It's just been boiling for so long and now it's just running over."
In the two weeks since the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who lost his life after a police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes, more than 700 cities and towns spanning all 50 states have been home to the historical Black Lives Matter demonstrations, extending past the country's traditionally liberal cities and into suburban and rural communities. From Greenwich, Connecticut to Waco, Texas to Wenatchee, Washington, protesters are standing up against police brutality and racial injustice, tapping into a level of civil engagement that city officials say they haven't seen in decades.
In Coatesville, Logan said the recent protests were reminiscent of when civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. visited the town in the 1960s.