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Conservative Organizer Bill Tryon: America Is Being Ripped Down The Middle

Bill Tryon
Photo provided
Bill Tryon

Last Saturday on Midday Magazine, we aired an interview with Albany activist Lukee Forbes.

Part of the interview focused on an August 1st “Back the Blue” pro-police rally in Albany, which Forbes attended, along with a small group of other counter-protesters.

During the rally, Forbes, who is Black, dragged a “thin blue line” flag, which he considers a “fake” flag, drawing strong reaction from the largely white crowd of Back the Blue demonstrators. The stylized American flag features black and blue stripes and is commonly seen at conservative rallies.

I asked Forbes about his interaction with rally organizer Bill Tryon after the protest. Here’s a portion of that interview:

Forbes: He said, ‘Why aren't you talking about black-on-black crime?’

And what I said to him was who kills Italian in Italy? Italians. Who kills white people in the suburbs? White people. The reason why you see a lot of crime going on in our community is because we lacked the resources. This is why we say, ‘Can we defund the police and fund community?’

Willard: What did he say to that?

Forbes: He had nothing to say. Because logic always makes more sense than foolishness.

Willard: Do you think that people, if they sort of take one side, that their mind can be changed?

Forbes: No, they definitely can. There was a veteran there who was open minded and his biggest thing was he didn't want riots, he didn't want violence, and he was against racism. And I said, I don't want riots, I don't want violence, and I'm against racism. And we shook hands. He gave me a mask and we went about our day.

And those are the type of things that we want. Those are the type of things that cause the change and it causes the stereotypes and discrimination to be brought away.

Bill Tryon provided a response to Forbes’ comments to WAMC, which was posted online in its entirety.  

A few days later, I agreed to meet Tryon for a follow-up interview.

Like with Lukee Forbes, I met Tryon in Washington Park.

The conservative organizer of the so-called Liberty Bell Alliance also appeared with a friend who videotaped our conversation, which I went along with.

Tryon began by reading from the same statement given to WAMC the week before.

“…Your communities have not failed you because of the lack of programs, but the lack of DADS to discipline, dads to love, dads to teach, guide and encourage…”

In our interview, I asked Tryon if he was aware that people took offense to his statement and how it generalizes the issue of single-parent households in the community.

Tryon: Kids need to grow up with a dad in the house. And that's a shame. I thought about that later, too. In no way did I mean to demean anyone, you know, a lot of young men have dads. But you know, the ones that don't, oh my gosh. My heart’s broken for them.

Willard: But it may not also be that there is a lack of a father figure in a home and I don't think we can make the generalization that that's necessarily the case. I think that the point of all the protesting, and the Black Lives Matter protesting, is about injustices in a society. That's something that's baked into the society, what we call systemic racism. And what do you think of that term systemic racism? When you hear it what does it mean to you? What do you process?

Tryon: I believe that the average, the most of the American people are not racist. I believe that 10, 15 years ago, we were almost over this problem. But in the last 10 years, it seems like this this problem has really emerged as a major issue in our country. And it's…what a shame. Because we're being ripped right down the middle. And this is not a time for us to be ripped down in the middle, because there are forces that would take advantage of that. And Heaven forbid that your kids lose an opportunity to grow up in a beautiful, free country. You know, do you have kids, Lucas?

Willard: I do not, no.

Tryon: Yeah. When you have children, it becomes a whole new ballgame. Life becomes different. Life becomes not about me now. It becomes about these beautiful little blessings from God. And that's what made me…When I was 34 I had my first daughter, my daughter, and it was like a life changing of that, you know? And so I believe…there is racism. There's racism on both sides. And you know, though, the whole Black Lives Matter, what lives matter, who matters…that was all dealt with. And I'll tell you, it was dealt with when Jesus Christ put his arms out on that cross, all lives matter. He died for everybody, there is there is no difference. We're all his children. And I don't know where you stand on that. But that's the truth, sir. And we have a Christian nation here that was founded on Christian principles.

Willard: What I would say is that I think that a lot of people in the Black Lives Matter, protesters and demonstrators, agree that all life is sacred. But I think that there's a focus put on, there's a moment right now in this country, where there's a focus that's put on the Black men and women in America. And we see these videotaped arrests, and we see things like George Floyd, and it makes people very, very angry. And we see it even locally in our communities here. It's not just something that happens on a TV screen. So there's very real anger at something that many people might feel is unobtainable in this country, equal justice might be unobtainable.

Tryon: I would hope that's not the case. Because this country, our documents truly are they guaranteed every one of us white, blue, Black, green, the same rights. And you know, something, we've got to just kind of shake off the dust and go forward. You know, we can't keep living in this where it's time as Americans, I'm telling you, the opportunities are there. You know, the opportunities are there.

Willard: So I have attended ‘Back the Blue’ demonstration as well as protests for Black Lives Matter, protests in the Capital Region over the last few months. And there's a lot of vitriol between groups. You get to the middle where a group of counter-protesters will come in, and there are insults that are thrown back-and-forth. And I've heard it from the Back the Blue individuals and I've heard it from the Black Lives Matter individuals.

Tryon: The problem is…When we had a rally on the first, August 1st, out at the capitol steps. Now… and Lukee came in dragging, and it is a flag, no matter whether he wants to call it anything else, but it represents the American flag. And to drag it on the ground, that is going to cause a response. You're talking patriots, here, that are willing to come out and spend half their Saturday to honor the police and to honor their country. And when they see the country’s symbol being dragged on the ground, there's going to be a response. So it's… they're being antagonized. And, and, you know, Lukee was responsible for that. What a shame and I understand…I understand his side of it, but that's not the way to make progress between the two sides. The way to make progress between the two sides is to speak, to talk, not cause an angry response, and that that then can be filmed and viewed as a racist response. What a shame. Both sides are being divided.

Willard: What…Do you believe that you, yourself, Bill Tryon, would also like to join in discussion with these individuals? And really sit down and not just…and realize that you also have a lot to learn about these things?

Tryon: Right here, right here, right here, right here next to this statue. All you have to do is tell me when to come. And I'd be willing to sit down with these folks. Again, I really do care. This is my beautiful country. It's your beautiful countries, son. Do you know how many men stormed the beaches in so many places around this world that we might stand here right now and freely converse? Oh my gosh, there's been blood all over the world. And you know what America has done hundreds of times? She's gone into countries and her men have died on their soil, for their freedom. That's an amazing thing. When Americans here, young Americans, Lukee's age and my son's age, get up, train and go overseas to die on somebody else's soil for somebody else's freedom. We got some real special here, son.

My conversation with Tryon was Wednesday afternoon. The next night, he and Forbes were back on opposite sides of a Capital Region demonstration. Tryon rallied supporters to defend the First Amendment rights of a Colonie bakery, Coccadott’s, that recently faced backlash after posting an image of a Make America Great Again hat cake to social media. Forbes joined protesters outside of the bakery, dressed in a judge’s robe — hoping to call attention to the past departure of the bakery’s co-owner, who sued, claiming he was forced out for being gay. The protesters also attempted to make a connection between the current owners and a family member who faced controversy three years ago for alleged ties with the Proud Boys white supremacist group. 

Below is Tryon's original statement to WAMC: 

"Son, America has not failed you. Your communities have not failed you because of the lack of programs, but the lack of DADS to discipline, dads to love, dads to teach, guide and encourage, my heart breaks for you my son as you search your known world for the dad you know you desperately need, to get the love you know you desperately need, no wonder you are angry, I would be angry too!!

I’m sorry son but no amount of money or programs can change your communities until your dads again start taking an active interest in their sons and daughters lives and start throwing the angry murderous RAPP industry and drugs out the windows of your homes, until your dads start running the gang members out of your yards and off the streets in your neighborhoods because they love you enough to intervene in your lives, and protect you and teach you, and they put you son above themselves on their list of priorities, that’s what dads are supposed to do son, that’s love! 

Then son you will have a chance, then young man you will become an American Citizen in a great country that loves you for who you are, and judges you not by the color of your skin but the content of your character as Martin Luther King said so beautifully!

And possibly the greatest blessings of all shall fall upon the dads who return to their roles in the home, as dads regaining a purpose in life, a pride in life, of a son in their footsteps or a daughter in their arms!

Bill Tryon, The Liberty Bell Alliance 76 (it rings for you too son)" 

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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