"One of my goals is to always educate people," said McMahan.
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On Sunday afternoon, McMahan will host a "Sign Garden for Justice" outside the Dublin Civic Center, much like those recently held in other Tri-Valley cities.
But the Dublin High senior felt threatened after Mike Grant, the owner of a local gun business, posted on Facebook, with a picture of McMahan and a call to action for counter-protesters to "please bring your vests and helmets in case these BLM people start trouble."
"I was very shaken. I wasn't actually able to think properly either," said McMahon. "I didn't know how to go at this, because this was my first time ever dealing with this."
The threatening post prompted Denel's father to call Grant directly. It seems that conversation and angry social media reaction to his post made an impression on Grant.
“I’m more than willing to meet with him.” #Dublin High senior Denel McMahan says of gun store owner who initially posted FB threats to McMahan’s #BLM event Sunday. Mike Grant told #ABC7 he’s had a change of heart. “I never thought a 17 yr old could teach a 65 yr old, but he did.” pic.twitter.com/plEkAd4MdT— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) November 12, 2020
"I never thought a 17-year old-boy could teach a 65-year-old man something, but he did," said Grant by phone today. "For the last found and-a-half days I've lived it. Just with phone calls, and texts and hate mail and stuff. Now I think I understand why this young man is doing this, to try to educate people," he said.
"He's gotten the opportunity to kind of walk in a Black man's shoes," said Denel's mother Dawn McMahan, "and he now kind of understands the threat that he placed on my son's back with just his words."
Grant told ABC7News, he is out-of-state now, but would like to sit down and have conversation with Denel.
"I'm more than willing to have a conversation with him about this," said Denel McMahan. "How we can move forward and how can move forward to support the community."
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As for Grant's initial--and now deleted--Facebook call to action?
"Do not, I repeat, do not go and protest or go to that event to give hate or to cause a problem," said Grant when asked what message he had for his social media followers.
Nonetheless, Dublin police say they will be close-by to make sure Denel's event and any counter-protests remain peaceful.
The event, called "Sign Garden for Justice," will take place on Sunday, Nov. 15, at 2 p.m. in the Dublin Civic Center, address 100 Civic Plaza, Dublin.