Message shifts from anger to change as ninth day of protests wraps peacefully

Message shifts from anger to change as ninth day of protests wraps peacefully

ATLANTA — Protesters gathered outside the governor’s mansion in Buckhead as the ninth night demonstrations for racial and social justice unfolded across Atlanta.

The crowd that gathered on the sidewalk directly across the street from Gov. Brian Kemp’s residence held signs and marched for hours Saturday afternoon and into the evening, dispersing around 9:30 p.m.

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“I’m out here because black lives do matter, and I mean, it’s just ridiculous. I mean, there’s been too many deaths. There’s a list that’s like a mile long and it’s time for change,” one protester said.

“I just didn’t feel right sitting at home. I said, ‘I need to get out. I need to have my voice heard and just make a change,’” another protester told Channel 2’s Tyisha Fernandes.

For hours, the protest went on peacefully. Drivers passing by honked their horns to show support.

But when a group of protesters stepped off the curb around 8 p.m. and brought their message to the middle of the street, police arrested them.

“He stopped in the middle of the road, he had a sign that said, 'Black Lives Matter.' They got mad and then they arrested him. He did nothing wrong,” a protester said.

Fernandes said the crowd dispersed about an hour later, but a different group of protesters were still outside of the capitol holding a rally there.

She asked several people in the crowd what has been driving them to protest for more than a week now.

“This shows that everybody’s tired. We’ve been tired," a protester said. "We can’t wait another day, and we don’t have time for another day. We’re not losing another person. We’re not waiting for another election. We need changes today.”

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Earlier in the day, Channel 2’s Audrey Washington was at another demonstration downtown where protesters told her they plan to continue to gather and march for days—maybe even months—to come.

Washington was with the crowd gathered outside Atlanta City Hall on Saturday afternoon. This group included representatives of Atlanta’s historically black colleges and universities, and started at the Atlanta University Center.

They requested that the officers involved in the Breonna Taylor in Louisville, Ky., case be charged, just like the officers involved in the Arbery and Floyd cases.

Another issue they want changed is how policing is conducted in the Atlanta community as a whole.

This second group of protesters said they want more oversight and drug testing, especially for officers with abuse-of-power and brutality complaints.

Atlanta rapper and actor Chris “Ludacris” Bridges was among those in the crowd.

“There is change happening very slowly. We have the world’s ear right now. It’s going take a while. But anyone who signed up with us for this fight, be prepared to do it for more than 401 years and that’s all I have to say,” Bridges said.