ATLANTA - Nearly 200 people filled the amphitheater outside the King Center Wednesday evening. It was a mix of college students and families -- all of them concerned and frustrated with the shooting in Missouri and speaking out peacefully for change.
They gathered in the shadow of Ebenezer Baptist Church to rally for change in what they say is an ongoing problem of excessive force used by officers against African-Americans.
“Answer questions that we have about national police brutality and come up with some sustainable nonviolent methods of protest in the city,” said organizer Aurielle Lucier.
Lucier said word spread on social media after police in Ferguson, Missouri shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Saturday. Witnesses said Brown was unarmed with his hands up when an officer shot him. Police said Brown attacked the officer and tried to take his gun.
In Atlanta, hundreds of people showed up to protest peacefully and voice frustrations.
“I actually just happened to hear about this last night,” said Farrell Williams.
Williams is from Ferguson, Missouri, and said he's shocked by the way Brown lost his life and the turmoil in his community since.
“It actually brought tears to my eyes to know they treated him this way,” Williams said.
“This is a human rights issue. Because to me there needs to be more people out here of all races because these are children being killed,” Williams said.
Jerome Fitts said the presence of camera phones and social media means the community is hearing more about cases like this than in the past. Everyone who gathered in Atlanta was looking for an answer about how to stop what they see as an ongoing problem and keep communities safe.
“No matter what race you are, you need to close your eyes and say what if that was my child,” Fitts said.
This was just the first of more planned local demonstrations outside the King Center.
Organizers said they are planning to rally and march through downtown Atlanta Monday at 6:30 p.m. to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.