ATLANTA — Julius Thomas, with The People’s Uprising, is one of many Atlanta civil rights activists anxiously waiting for the Ahmaud Arbery verdict.
“A not guilty verdict would be a huge punch in the gut,” Thomas said. “Ahmad Arbery really started the 2020 social justice movement.”
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But the images from the 2020 George Floyd murder protests are still on the minds of Atlanta police as they prepare for potential unrest after the Arbery verdict.
“We are prepared for this,” Atlanta police officer Jarius Daugherty said.
Thomas said that metro Atlanta residents and Atlanta police shouldn’t immediately expect violence if Arbery’s accused murderers are acquitted.
“There’s a lot more good protesters than there are some people who choose to go the different route,” Thomas said.
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Atlanta police said that 100 police officers in their civil disturbance unit are standing by as the state and the world awaits a verdict in Brunswick.
“They do get quarterly training, so they are more than well enough equipped to handle anything that we see,” Daugherty said.
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Earlier this year, when a jury convicted George Floyd’s killer, Thomas helped organize peaceful demonstrations through Atlanta.
He says if a jury acquits the men on trial for Arbery’s killing, the protests that could follow can be effective without turning into riots.
“Just the immediate response that people who just speak out against injustice are some crazy wild people, that’s completely wrong,” Thomas said.
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