MARION, Va. (WJHL) — Hours after the New Panthers group hosted its first march, a resident reported a barrel on fire in a yard across the street to the Marion Police Department.
Upon further inspection, the department discovered what appeared to be a wooden cross burning in a barrel in front of the residence of the march’s leader, Travon Brown.
Due to the nature of the incident, the case has been shifted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
News Channel 11’s Anslee Daniel spoke to Brown, who said the incident has failed to fill him with fear. Rather, it has shown him why the movement needs to persist in the small town.
Brown believes the act was a scare tactic, but he hopes community members could spark healthy discussions regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.
“It didn’t work…the scaring tactic didn’t work,” Brown said. “It only made me stronger. [I’m] coming back more powerful than ever, and I just hope that they pray about it…move on.
“Come talk to me. We can have a civil conversation as two young adults or adults.”
News Channel 11 reached out to the FBI, however, agents were unable to provide further comment besides confirming they continue to investigate the case.
Saturday afternoon’s march proved to be a mostly peaceful protest and resulted in one arrest of a counter-protester.
A small business owner on Main Street in Marion told News Channel 11 that she believes the “Black Lives Matter” movement is necessary for the small town.
Kathleen Cobbs, owner of the Downtown Resale Boutique, said the counter-protesters missed the bigger picture.
“I do have neighbors and things that don’t like to hear black lives matter,” Cobbs said. “They want to tell you that all lives matter. But right now when you try to tell them, ‘Yes, it’s true all lives matter; however, right now we need to support our black community because they’re getting hurt more.’”
Cobbs said that with recent events, she fears for Brown and his family.
“I’m just worried that the family is going to be targeted because their son is excited and trying to support himself and his future by letting people understand that being black is not easy in this society,” Cobbs said.
As for Brown — the young activist says he will continue marching forward.
“I’m stronger than ever,” Brown. “It gives me more motivation to keep doing what I’m doing.”
The incident remains under investigation.