Journalist who captured couple getting engaged during Walter Wallace Jr. protests responds to backlash

Megan Sims
·2 min read

A Philadelphia couple got engaged during the uprisings following the shooting death of an unarmed Black man.

On Tuesday, the second night of protests following the shooting of Walter Wallace Jr., 27, Maurice Small got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend of eight years, Tanesha Pennington, in the middle of a Philadelphia street.

Journalist Jason Peters captured the moment on camera and shared the video via Twitter. Small can be seen dropping to one knee in front of Pennington in front of a line of police officers. Pennington quickly nods her head and they embrace to cheers of “congratulations” from fellow protestors.

“My name is Tanesha Pennington, but it’s gonna be Tanesha Small,” she told Peters following the proposal.

Peters tells Yahoo Life that the circumstances were not ideal to celebrate an engagement.

“That road was not blocked off so it was rather dangerous to be in the middle of that particular street,” he explains. “Just around the corner, police were being bombarded with bricks and glass bottles then arresting people.”

As of Thursday, the video’s been viewed more than 9,000 times and according to Peters, there have been mixed reactions to the video with some believing the proposal was not appropriate while others found it romantic. He has his own thoughts about that moment.

“Personally, I think it’s emblematic of Philadelphia’s attitude,” he says. “You can’t expect protesters to be miserable, downtrodden and furious for an entire evening of protests.

Overall, no matter what people think about Small and Pennington’s special moment, Peters adds that it was a much-needed break.

“The celebration of the engagement was short, but provided some much needed levity,” he says. “Surrounded by hundreds of police, the engagement briefly cut the tension.”

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