An East Bay high school student expressed his commitment to social justice, then came the online threat and the hate mail.
“I was shaking … I couldn’t really process what was happening,” said Denel McMahan.
That’s how the 17-year-old Dublin High School student reacted when he heard about a post threatening the “Tri Valley for Black Lives” rally he organized for this Sunday.
The rally had the Dublin City Council’s blessing but not the OK from Mike Grant.
His Facebook post called on Oath Keepers, NRA members and second amendment supporters to show up at the rally “with helmets and vests in case these BLM people start trouble.” And he posted a picture of the 17-year-old.
“He actually referred to us as thugs,” said Denel. “He got 29 shares that made me very nervous because some 30 people were feeling like this, that means 30 people potentially threatening me.”
The man who posted that message says he had it all wrong.
“I thought it was going to be the BLM that was not friendly style, you’ve seen across the country,” Grant said, adding he envisioned violence as a result of the protest.
Reaction to the post has been overwhelming for Grant.
“The last four days I’ve been getting a lot of hate mail,” he said.
Denel’s father Jamar McMahan tracked down Grant and called him.
“And as upset as I am with what mister Grant did, I think he’s sincere in what he’s saying and like my son, I hope we can move forward with us getting to some kind of resolution,” Jamar said.
And that includes an in-person meeting between Grant and the McMahan family.
“I never thought a 17-year-old boy would basically wake a 65-year-old man up,” said Grant.
The demonstration is called Sign Garden for Justice and it’s scheduled at the Dublin Civic Center Sunday afternoon.
Grant now says he’d like his supporters to just let the protestors be.