Phyllis Kahn and her daughter, indie rapper AngieOnMars, were driving home after a trip to the supermarket in Florida’s West Palm Beach on Sunday evening when something caught their eye.
On the corner of a major intersection near a mall in their town of Wellington was a young white man, standing alone and holding a sign that read “Black Lives Fucking Matter.”
“It was just so touching to see a white male standing out on the corner and actually trying to protect a cause and support the community,” Kahn said.
“Angelina and I were in tears,” she added, referring to her daughter by her given name. “We had to go back and support him.”
Together, they circled the block, and AngieOnMars, 22, took out her cellphone to record the man. As they passed, Kahn honked her horn and her daughter told the lone protester, “All it takes is one.”
AngieOnMars then shared the moment on TikTok, and it later went viral.
It was an emotional moment for the mother and daughter. The wealthy enclave of West Palm Beach can be a buttoned-up place, they said, but it’s not without prejudice.
AngieOnMars said some in the community tend to assume Black residents are the family of rappers, rather than self-made doctors or lawyers. She still remembers the hurt she felt as a teenager not being invited to certain parties. Kahn recalled how white retail workers have given her funny looks when she’s walked into high-end stores. She worries for her son, who she said can face discrimination because of his dreadlocks.
“I told [the man protesting] that what you’re doing is what all of us need to do,” Kahn said.
Little did they know the man’s evening was just beginning.
Almost immediately after the mother and daughter drove by, a white woman confronted the protester, 23-year-old Shane Meyers, about the swear word on his sign.
Meyers — who did not want to be interviewed extensively for this story, citing his desire to amplify Black voices instead — uploaded a video of his confrontation with the woman to his own TikTok account. His video, which began with AngieOnMars’s clip, showed him arguing with the unidentified woman as two sheriff’s deputies stood by.
“I said, ‘Excuse me, could you please not put that sign out because it’s going to crank up the wrong people,'” the woman says in the video. “I don’t want to be driving and have bullets shot at me because they’re upset.”
“Unfortunately he’s allowed to stand here with a sign that says whatever he wants to say on it,” says one of the deputies.
“I’m just upset because I don’t want to get caught if there starts rioting because of your sign,” says the woman.
“I’m also upset because black and brown lives are at risk every single day in this country,” Meyers responds.
“Everybody’s lives are at risk in this country, so let’s not…” the deputy replies.
When the woman objects to Meyers swearing in person and on his sign, he calls her a “snowflake.”
Teri Barbera, a spokesperson for the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, told BuzzFeed News that deputies “came upon this incident involving the parties arguing.”
“The female was not happy with the profanity on the sign, which is protected speech, so the deputies took no action other than to keep the peace,” she said. “Both parties left the area on their own. No further action taken.”
Meyers confirmed to BuzzFeed News that he had left the scene a minute or so after the video ended.
Not only did Meyers’ TikTok go viral, but tweets containing his video also spread widely on Twitter.
One widely seen tweet sarcastically discouraged people from heading to the same location to protest for Black Lives Matter.
In recent days, thanks to the videos from Meyers and the Kahn family, dozens of protesters turned out in the same spot to carry signs and protest.
Snapchats from Tuesday evening showed a group of roughly half a dozen standing on the same corner.
By Friday morning, there were dozens more.
Video from the scene showed cars honking their horns to support the protesters.
Although Meyers didn’t want too much focus on himself in this story, he told BuzzFeed News he was proud his lone act of protest had inspired others.
“I’m overjoyed by the large groups that have returned to protest at the same street corner every day,” he said. “More than anything, I hope the video and subsequent response show people that even a small action can have a large impact. Get out and join a protest or start your own.”
The Kahn family, too, are moved that they witnessed the beginning of a movement in their neighborhood.
“I think that’s wonderful,” said Kahn when told of the Friday protest. “That the community is coming out — black, white, yellow — I think that’s so touching.”
“I think it’s so beautiful,” AngieOnMars added. “It’s just so crazy when, like I said, all it takes is one because — wow — to start a movement down here? Oh my gosh, that’s a blessing.”