In liberal California, Black Lives Matter protests in some towns meet with ‘scary’ backlash

California
Pastor Nelson Rabell-González of St. Paul Lutheran Church, seen in this 2020 photo, is at the forefront of A New Lodi, an organization working to change what he says is the racist history of the San Joaquin town. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Pastor Nelson Rabell-González of St. Paul Lutheran Church, seen in this 2020 photo, is at the forefront of A New Lodi, an organization working to change what he says is the racist history of the San Joaquin town. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

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Pastor Nelson Rabell-González knew that “livable, lovable Lodi,” as locals call it, had a problem when men carrying a noose and baseball bats with American flags attached shouted racial slurs at him in September as he helped lead a peaceful protest in this San Joaquin Valley town.

What surprised him was that to some, the problem was him.

“I feel like I am in Alabama prior to the civil rights [movement],” said Rabell-González, an Afro-Caribbean Lutheran minister who in past months has planned some of the first racial justice marches to ever take place in this agricultural outpost made famous by a Creedence Clearwater Revival song about a man stuck where he‘s not appreciated. “We are bringing them into the ’60s, this town.”

Though large protests have filled streets in Los Angeles and other cities since a Minneapolis policeman killed George Floyd in May, freshly minted organizers such as Rabell-González are pushing for change in rural communities, often confronting challenges their urban counterparts never encounter.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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