Iowan Recounts Virginia Protests: “I’ve Never Seen Anything Like It”

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  A Des Moines native and activist has lived a page in the history books.

Bonnie Brown calls what she saw on the front line in Charlottesville traumatizing.

“Everyone was really upset, crying. I saw at least seven stretchers go out into the ambulance. We created a line, we linked arms and created a line of privacy around those who were hurt,” Brown says. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my life.”

Brown tells Channel 13 she was prepared for the worst at the protests, but that didn't stop her from flying from Des Moines to stand in favor of removing the confederate statue.

“The statue was put up in 1924, that was 60 years after the Civil War ended. That statue has a lot of really painful history for African Americans,” she says.

Brown says the violence is still a reminder that racism is still alive, and fears it will continue under Trump's presidency. She says the president's motto of “making America great again” means something else.

“I think it means take America back to the 1960s, and that's what he's been doing.”

Hundreds of Iowans gathered at the "Shine a Light against Hate" rally on Monday night in downtown Des Moines. Brown says community rallies are the first step towards addressing the issue, but people having conversations about current events--although it may not be easy--comes next.

"This is an issue that it's just hard for people to talk about. People don't like to talk about race issues because there is such a divide with how people are treated based on race in this country. People don't want to face that and they really don't want to face the truth.”

However, a viral Facebook post from the Iowa State Fair appears to show two men bridging the racial divide. On Saturday, Jennifer Colyer posted a picture of two men sharing a bench. Colyer says the two were strangers and began praying with one another, then parted with a hug. The post read, “We may not be able to travel to Virginia or wherever the next demonstration of hate will be, but we can love right where we are.”

The post has been shared more than 14,000 times.