Last updated: Monday, September 26, 2016 at 5:09 p.m.
On Friday, Sept. 23, Atlanta citizens marched down the streets of Downtown as part of a peaceful protest they called “Midnight in America”.
Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in deep trenches at the Atlanta City Detention Center after a three mile march through Downtown. According to the AJC, a crowd of 450 peacefully marched for more than four hours, with only one arrest during the night.
With a police barricade at their backs, dozens crowded the steps of the government building to demand justice, shouting the rally cry, “shut the system down!”
“We have a society that is really skewed towards benefitting the select few that are in power, and we need a decentralization of power,” ATL Raise Up organizer Jaira Burke said. “We need more communal input for us to be able to speak to our issues. Community organization is a central part of any liberation of the people. It takes people marching, it takes people organizing, it takes people occupying that space.”
The Atlanta City Detention Center is one of several spaces to be occupied nationwide by protesters, as police brutality stained two more cities across the country in the past week.
Terrence Crutcher, 40, had his hands up when he was fatally shot by officer Betty Shelby in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In Charlotte, North Carolina Keith Lamont Scott was picking up his child from school when he was shot by police in front of his wife.
Last night’s protesters held signs reading #JusticeforJam, in honor of Jamarion Robinson, who was shot and killed by U.S. Marshals in Atlanta on Aug. 5.
Robinson, 26, was an Atlanta native, in his last semester of college at Tuskegee University. He was a successful student and athlete, but had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in December 2015.
But Robinson didn’t live to see graduation. He was shot 95 times by U.S. Marshals at his girlfriend’s East Point apartment. Seventy-six bullets riddled his body, and Jamarion was buried in gloves, his mother said, because his hands had been shot off.
“My son was a loving, kind-hearted person, always loving and kissing on everyone,” the victim’s mother, Monteria Robinson, said at the protest. “I think about him everyday, I cry for him everyday. I have to be strong for him because I have to fight for him. Because if I’m not strong for him, his name would be in vain. And his name will not be in vain. Part of my being so strong and carrying on, is to carry him on.”
Hashtags such as #Justiceforjam and others for past victims were printed across T-shirts, banners and posters. When Monteria Robinson grew too tired to carry the sign for her son, young people lifted it high for her.
“A lot of the major movements have been started by college-age people; the sit-ins, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). This is our turn now,” Georgia State senior Kiana Grinnage said. “What are we gonna do to protect the generation that comes after us? We have to do something.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated the protest was on Friday, Sept. 22.