Five Nights of Youth Protests, Copious Arrests in Atlanta after Latest Police Killings
Photograph by Laura Emiko Solitis
(APN) ATLANTA — Five nights of protests in Atlanta has temporarily ended with a promise for a formal meeting Monday, July 19, 2016 between Black Lives Matter (BLM) leaders, other organizers, Mayor of Atlanta Kasim Reed, and Atlanta Police Chief George Turner to discuss their complaints.
The Monday night July 11 protest started at Lenox MARTA station to a huge police presence.
“On the Peachtree Street side of Lenox Mall, police got out of their cars and started grabbing and arresting people,” Avery Jackson, AUC Shut It Down, told Atlanta Progressive News.
The social justice activists, students, and people of conscience kept walking down the sidewalk to West Paces Ferry and the Governor’s mansion.
“As soon as we got to the residential neighborhood where the money was, it got really tense and we saw barricades going up,” Jackson told APN.
The activists pledged to stay in front of the Governor’s Mansion as long as it took to get their voices heard and to wake up a sleeping nation to human right abuses done in the name of the law.
“When we declared occupation of the area and was not leaving, the police blocked off the area and would not allow food or water to come in to us,” Jackson said.
Food was brought in for the police officers who ate in front of the thirsty and hungry crowd.
Organizers wanted to know why the police allowed food brought in for themselves, but would not allow people to deliver food to the hungry and thirsty people who walked a long way in the summer heat.
Organizers demanded a meeting with Mayor Reed and Chief Turner.
Around midnight a few organizers had a private conversation with the Mayor and Chief of Police. A truce was agreed upon until the formal meeting on Monday, July 19.
“It’s a win,” the crowd roared, and it is a small victory on a long road to repair relations between the police and the Black community.
Advocates believe that in a democracy, law enforcement should not be above the law; and officers’ first option should not be shoot to kill and then allowed to get away with it.
Monday night, sixteen people were arrested for obstructing traffic; and one for not having required bicycle equipment .
They were all taken to the Atlanta City jail.
A total of 34 people has been arrested during the five days of protests against continued police killing of Black people for minor infractions of the law in this country.
The brave people arrested Monday night for standing up for reform in the in the police department and criminal justice system include:
Castillo Daniel, Kathryn Klein, Caitlin Malia, Amber Schreiner, Myles Henderson, Thomas Selgie, Zachary Zeman, Collins Cornell, John Elsberry, Robert Andrews, Kentre’ vious Hightower, Joshua Metcalf, Patrick Knight, Rasjan Harris, and Benjamin Simonds-Malamud.
In addition, police injured and brutalized to a horrific degree Mr. Kevin Moran, a member of Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition. Moran was then taken to Grady Hospital, where he was chained to his bed.
Moran’s shoulder was dislocated when police pulled his arm back to handcuff him. He pled with the police to not handcuff him behind his back because of an old shoulder injury.
“People of color have been brutalized by the police nationally for centuries. Only with the advent of cellphones are we able to show this reality. Yet, police are not being held accountable and this is unconscionable,” Moran said in a video statement posted to Facebook.
“The federal, state, and local governments are not being held accountable for the brutality that is being inflicted on unarmed, innocent people,” Moran said.
“White people must not continue to condone this behavior by overlooking the pain being inflicted on people of color. Please go to the streets and demand real change and make your voice heard. Demand federal intervention to protect the lives of our Native American, Hispanic, and African American brothers and sisters and all marginalized people that have been disenfranchised and abused,” Moran said.
In Atlanta, the protests, led by BLM, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Freedom University, #ATLisReady, and dozens of other organizations, started on Thursday, July 07, Thursday with the discovery of a deceased Black man hanging in a tree in Piedmont Park.
The victim in Piedmont Park has now been identified by authorities as Michael George Smith, Jr., 22, from New Jersey.
Protests had already already planned for Friday night in solidarity with nationwide protests over the unnecessary police killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, as reported earlier by APN.
The sheer number of police killings in the U.S. has called other countries to issue travel warnings for people traveling to the United States. The Bahamas, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have issued travel warnings.
China said the U.S. needs to fix their race problem before pointing their finger at human right abuses in other countries.
Here is a link to statistics of police killings in the U.S. starting in 2013 until today.
This generation of young people are gearing up to change the structural and systemic racism that infiltrates the criminal justice system on all levels.