Owners of Black Lives Matter stand in Murrieta say they continue to be harassed

The Grant family sells Black Lives Matter merchandise at the intersection of Winchester and Hunter roads near Murrieta, Sept. 24. The family say they have been subjected to harassment from individuals at their booth location. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

The owners of a stand selling Black Lives Matter masks, T-shirts and other wares at a Murrieta intersection said they are continuing to be the targets of harassment, even after receiving media attention at the end of September.

The grandson of the woman who opened the stand said not only has he seen passing motorists shout racial slurs, but unknown vandals have gone so far as to smear feces in the area around the stand and leave nails to damage vehicle tires.

Esther Grant told NBC Los Angeles, Sept. 23, that she opened the stand in June to promote racial equality and to raise money for a youth center for disadvantaged children she hopes to start but ran into plenty of hate.

Her grandson said while some of that hate has let up since making the news, it definitely has not gone away.

“People are always coming down this street, Winchester, and they just say racial slurs, because they feel like our Black Lives Matter stand is a political thing, but it’s really a humanitarian thing,” grandson Shemar Lucas said.

People operating a Black Lives Matter merchandise booth on Winchester and Hunter roads have expressed encountering manure dumped at their booth location and harassment from individuals who do not agree with the BLM message. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

Even while Valley News was conducting the interview for this story, Oct. 1, a passenger in a passing vehicle shouted and exposed her middle finger while heading north on Winchester Road.

Lucas said people have come up to the stand to directly confront him and his grandmother.

He said that in the past week, a man had come up to start such a confrontation.

“A White man, Caucasian man came up to the stand, and he was just bothering us for no reason,” Lucas said. “I feel like he was trying to pick a fight. He’s more so just didn’t want anything – he didn’t want to buy any merchandise; he just wanted to cause a problem.”

Another woman came up to the stand expressing racial prejudice, he said.

“She just blatantly said she doesn’t like Blacks,” Lucas said. “I had to ask her again; like she said that?”

The harassment, he said, has been ongoing ever since the stand opened in June. Lucas said he was surprised by the level of hate he has seen.

Shemar Lucas, left, sells Black Lives Matter merchandise to Jeff Jay at his family’s booth location at the intersection of Winchester and Hunter roads after the family have expressed encountering a series of harassment from individuals at their booth. Valley News/Shane Gibson photo

“Actually, I went to high school out here, and this is the first time I’ve seen it really in person, real-life, that people are racist,” Lucas said. “I wouldn’t say everybody’s racist, but there is a minority of people out here that’s like that.”

The reason for all the hate, Lucas said, he believes is simple: a lack of knowledge.

“They just don’t know that this is actually a good thing,” Lucas said. “It’s not just saying that we matter, we’re saying that everybody matters.”

He said it was especially disheartening because of the reason his grandmother started the stand.

“She wants to create a youth center for loss and disadvantaged children,” Lucas said. “That’s her main thing. For kids that are just lost and can’t find their way and they are on the wrong path, she wants to guide them back to that way.”

It’s something that the community definitely needs, he said.

“It’s hard for people who are on the wrong path, and they don’t know where to pick up,” Lucas said. “You’ve got to find the right people; you’ve got to find the right program structure.”

While the opposition the stand has gotten has been unfortunate, Lucas said he does not believe the behavior is representative of Murrieta.

“I wouldn’t say that represents everybody; I would say it represents some of the few,” Lucas said. “There are a lot of good people here, but there are a few that are racist.”

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.