Police shooting protest turns violent

by: Tony Thomas Updated:

UNION CITY, Ga.,None - A protest against police violence turned violent in Union City Wednesday night.

Some of the people who had gathered to speak out against the shooting of an unarmed 19-year-old man by a Union City Police officer tore up a street sign, spray-painted vulgar graffiti on government buildings and broke out a window to a nearby jail, Action 2 News reporter Tony Thomas said.

Organizers of the event said they were unaware of the activity until they were informed later.

Union City police said no one was arrested.

The gathering began peacefully as leaders from several different civil rights groups gathered to demand that Union City leaders speak with the family of Ariston Waiters.

Calls by Channel 2 Action News to Union City Police and the mayor for comment went unanswered.

Authorities said an officer shot and killed Waiters after a call reporting a fight in progress. Investigators said Waiters struggled with an officer.

His supporters said he never fought with the officer, but ran because he was afraid.

His mother, Freda Waiters, spoke at the rally on the steps of the Union City City Hall.

"I am so hurt because my son was gunned down like an animal. He did not deserve that," Freda Waiters said. "I am reminded every day, even in my house, of things my son would say and little bittie things he would do."

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now investigating the case and has not released any findings.

Activists said the Waiters shooting is just another in a long line of police violence they believe is unwarranted.  The groups want Union City's mayor and police chief to speak with the family. They also want Fulton County's district attorney to take the shooting case to a grand jury.

"How can you shoot someone in the back twice and define it as a fair fight?" asked Georgia NAACP President Ed Dubois.

National Action Network member Marcus Coleman told the crowd, "This is just like Katherine Johnston."

Johnston was the elderly Atlanta woman shot and killed in a bogus drug raid .

Union City leaders have not identified the officer involved in the Waiters shooting, but the family believes they know who he is.  

"To the officer that did this, I do not hate you and I'm not angry. I love you like I love my son. I want justice for what’s been done to my son." Freda Waiters said.

It was just moments after she spoke those words that violence broke out. Members of Occupy Atlanta and others marched down the main street in Union City to the public safety building and around the corner to a jail.

One man, his face covered with a black mask, was spotted pulling up a street sign and then tossing it in the street.

Another person covered in black spray-painted vulgar graffiti on the courthouse door before also targeting the sign to the Justice Center. It was painted so it read "Injustice Center."

Union City police said after the marchers went to the regional jail, someone broke out a window to the facility. A flag from the post office was also torn down and mail drop boxes were vandalized, as well.

The lawyer for the Waiters family said afterward he was saddened by the events and in no way did the family support any of the activity.