Police reported that more than 20 people were arrested among the multicultural sea of demonstrators that converged on Underground Atlanta Plaza downtown in protest of the Ferguson grand jury’s decision to vindicate officer Darren Wilson from all five charges related to the homicide. He shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown on Aug. 9, sparking more than two months of repeated demonstrations and violent confrontations between protesters and police.
The Atlanta incidents on Tuesday night included a brief shut-down of the Interstate 75/85 Connector for about 15 minutes by forming a human chain across the expressway, said Police Chief George Turner. Authorities quickly moved the protesters out of highway traffic and cars were able to continue.
During the four-hour rally from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. organized by a coalition of Atlanta youth groups and activists, many demonstrators hoisted signs that read “Hands up! Don’t Shoot!,” “No Justice no Peace,” “Black lives matter!” and “Justice for Mike Brown,”
Rally attendees bserved four minutes of silence to symbolize the four hours that Brown’s body lay in a Ferguson street after the fatal shooting.
Aurielle Lucier, founder of #It’s Bigger Than You, a social media based network of young activists, said students are ready administer vintage civil rights strategies to 21st century racial problems.
“This isn’t just about Michael Brown but his case is a symptom of larger issues.” Lucier said,
Older Atlanta civil rights leaders promoted a similar idea Tuesday designed to have an impact during the holiday season. The Rev. Timothy McDonald and Rev. Markel Hutchins called on African American consumers to boycott Black Friday sales.
Most of the arrests were for charges of obstruction or failure to disperse, though there was one felony weapons arrest, police chief George Turner said at a 10:45 p.m. briefing Tuesday.
Among the peaceful protests, some demonstrators broke a window at Meehan’s Irish Pub, at a Wells Fargo Bank, and attempted to break a window at the Ellis Hotel,
One APD cruiser had a window smashed and a taxi also had a windshield smashed, he said.
“Our plans for the rest of the night are to be here,” Turner said, “and to make sure our city is safe. We will not leave our city unprotected.”
Atlanta police gave demonstrators an order to disperse after 9:30 p.m. when the marchers had reached the area of the Peachtree Street-Ivan Allen/Ralph McGill intersection downtown.
“We thought it was important to allow individuals to express themselves peacefully,” Turner said. “We have a history of allowing people to express their constitutional rights.”