ATLANTA — Protesters took to the streets of Atlanta Friday night to march in solidarity after a man was shot and killed by police in Charlotte, North Carolina earlier this week.
A rally was held outside of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights in downtown Atlanta where several hundred people showed up in an event organized by the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP.
The focus of the rally and march was to put an end to police violence around the country.
"In the end, people are still getting killed. In the end, the mass incarceration rate is insane. In the end, clearly black lives don't matter to the people in power," said protester Lukas Vallderrama.
From the Center for Civil Rights, the group headed to the King Center.
Protesters told Channel 2’s Nicole Carr they took a cue from Charlotte to stand their ground in Atlanta.
"It means the continuation of a struggle that's been going on for years that continues to produce the same results," protester Mia Lundkvist told Carr.
The march was being dubbed as Midnight in America, another response to deadly police-involved shootings across the country.
"It's the genocide of our people that has not stopped. Talking about that Black Lives Matter. We understand that all lives matter but to give ourselves voices, voices that have been deprived so long," Lundkvist said.
"It's just sad that this situation keeps happening over and over again," Vallderrama said.
The protesters were also talking about social issues including mass incarceration. Issues the marchers said need to be confronted with mass responses like the one Friday night and the type that got the attention of Atlanta’s mayor over the summer.
"People were disrupted and people aren't going to confront these issues until they're confronted with them," Vallderrama said.
"Tonight this means that we're going to be all right. It gives us hope," Lundkvist said.
The protesters marched to Atlanta police headquarters where they held another rally and then worked their way over to the Atlanta City Jail.
“We respect demonstrators’ right to protest but urge them to remain peaceful,” said Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves. “Fulton County has launched a nationwide model to reform our justice system. Currently, we are the only department in the state of Georgia that monitors our police department’s actions on every call and ensures that no suspect is racially profiled. We must work to better understand each other and together, we can find solutions. Fulton County is a leader in the efforts to work with the community and ensure that everyone is treated fairly.”
"We definitely need all hands on deck to dramatize and to highlight this issue," said Mawuli Davis, head of the Atlanta NAACP.
Earlier in the day, Davis told Channel 2 investigative reporter Aaron Diamant that recent police shooting deaths of black men in Tulsa and Charlotte provided powerful motivation for a Friday evening march through downtown Atlanta -- dubbed Midnight in America.
"It is a dark day in America that we're having this repeated loss of life at the hands of law enforcement and that we must come together as a community," Davis said.
An earlier string of black men shot and killed by police in other cities sparked a massive demonstration in downtown Atlanta in July. As many as 15,000 protestors -- passionate, but peaceful – showed up.
Davis expects the same this time.
"This will be an opportunity for us to grieve publicly," David told Diamant.
"As long as they protest peacefully and respect the dignity of everybody else and do not break the law, we'll have a good evening," said Sgt. Warren Pickard of the Atlanta Police Department. "The biggest take-away for us was the movement. We have to be more predictive in where the protest is going and where final destination is."
To guide officers, APD leaders will follow marchers movements from closed-circuit cameras routed into a joint operations center.
Police and protestors have game plans to help keep the peace.
"We know that in the morning the sun will come up, and it is our hope that we can be a part of ushering in a new day for Georgia and for our country," Davis said.
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