A San Francisco couple took a dramatic — and windy — moment on the Golden Gate Bridge, during which protesters had halted traffic in both directions on Saturday afternoon, to get engaged in front of the assembled crowd.
Quinlin Messenger tells KRON4 that this was the first protest he's attended since the national unrest began two weeks ago, and that has everything to do with fears instilled in him, as a black man, by his father. Messenger, whose family is from Clarksdale, Mississippi, grew being told to steer clear of any event like this that might make him a target of the police.
"I have fears directly related to my father... his parents wouldn't allow him to go to protests in fear of being a target," Messenger tells ABC 7 in an interview.
But on Friday, hearing about the planned march on the bridge, he decided to overcome his fears and join his girlfriend of five years, Carrie Montgomery (who grew up in Alabama), at the Saturday demonstration. And, he decided, the engagement ring he'd been planning to give her on a canceled trip to Japan would be his source of protection and bravery.
As he tells ABC 7, "When I showed up there were cops and I felt the anxiety. I trusted that I would have that strength because I reached into my pocket and I held onto that ring, and everything in me, to give me the strength and follow love. It was a powerful moment for me as well."
Messenger popped the question while down on one knee, leading to an eruption of cheers from the surrounding protesters.
"It was just awesome to feel everyone happy and the energy… it was just really meaningful," Montgomery tells KRON4.
"We know the whole country is hurting right now… this week has been very challenging for me as a member of the black community and there’s been some cultural traumas that have come up and this woman has been instrumental in being able to help me navigate those things," Messenger says.
He adds, on Facebook, "So excited for what lies ahead for us, and our family to be. We hope our love can be a beacon for all!"
And as Montgomery adds to ABC 7, "I have a responsibility to engage in these conversations and educate myself and be empathetic. And it was important for us to engage within our circles and inspire others to have conversations of racism in different circles... knowing my background and his background."
The couple is planning to have a wedding as soon as their families are allowed to travel freely again.