A Pandemic Fourth in Davidson
It was anything but the normal Fourth of July in Davidson. No kids on bicycles decorated in red, white, and blue, excitedly waiting to parade from McEver Field to the Town Green. No ginormous American flag hanging from Davidson Fire Department’s largest ladder truck on the Green, Old Glory waving in the breeze.
In late May, the Town of Davidson had announced the cancellation of traditional holiday activities as a result of COVID-19. North Carolina remains in a modified Phase 2 of COVID re-opening, and more recently the statewide mask requirement went into effect. A number of town businesses even opted to close or modify their hours on the Fourth. It was to be a quiet day.
However, early last week information began to circulate on social media that motorcyclists would gather in Davidson for a ride in support of Donald Trump that would end at Queens Landing in Mooresville. The motorcycle ride was one of three political events that included a boat parade and a private- aircraft flyover. In addition, one social media post included information about a documentary being filmed.
According to town staff, organizers did not contact or coordinate with the Town, which was left to make decisions based on information gleaned from social media.
Although sponsors of the event claimed that “hundreds of motorcycles rode through towns such as Davidson and Mooresville,” a video shot in Davidson shows a total of 95 motorcycles in the rally, led by a Hummer. A modified 1990s Mustang also joined the parade.
It took less than two and a half minutes for all the motorcycles to pass by the Town Green, where about a dozen protesters — wearing masks per NC State mandate — held signs in support of Black Lives Matter and Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Residents of the North Main neighborhood were prepared when the parading motorcycles rumbled by. When Stacy Lesley, also a North Main resident, heard about the planned rally, she felt it would be important for “visitors to our community to understand what we on North Main feel is important.”
She found the message on the internet, spoke with her neighbors, and had signs printed at the last minute by Hello Signs, run by Cristian Larachg, an immigrant from Chile.
Placed in several yards and held up by others along the parade route, the sign is clear: This Home Embraces Diversity, Empowers Women, Believes in Science, Knows Love Is Love, Fights Injustice, and Welcomes Immigrants.
“The message is not political, and it does not endorse a party or candidate. It is a simple message of kindness, inclusivity, and equality,” Stacy said.
“Larry and I see Fourth of July as a celebration of the rights of all,” said Gardner Roller Ligo. “Those of us on the parade route felt we had to make those beliefs clear to any who tried to turn it to a celebration of racism and hatred. And so we did!”
Davidson Police, in coordination with College Police, had blocked off the intersections along N. Main to give the motorcycles unimpeded access out of town. Officers are not aware of any altercations or incidents related to the rally or counter-protesters.
“I am glad that concerned citizens exercised their right of free speech on Independence Day and expressed their concerns about the philosophy represented by the motorcyclists,” said Davidson Mayor Rusty Knox.
For more photos and video from Saturday, please visit our album.