“Black Lives Matter” march planned for Johnson City


JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – This weekend marks the anniversary of the death of Michael Brown, a black teenager who was shot and killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

The teen’s death sparked weeks of protests in the St. Louis suburb, some of them violent.

A grand jury exonerated Darren Wilson, the former police officer who shot and killed Brown, of any criminal wrongdoing. But a Justice Department investigation revealed racism was prevalent in the Ferguson Police Department.

After Brown’s death mass movement called “Black Lives Matter” erupted across the country, and this weekend, rallies, marches and other events are scheduled in cities all over the U.S.

This weekend, the Black Lives Matter movement is also coming to the Tri-Cities.

“It really started to become a mass movement in Ferguson, missouri a year ago after Michael Brown was killed,” said Dennis Prater, one of the organizers of Saturday’s march.

“Nationally there are going to be actions, marches, demonstrations, educational events, so we wanted to be part of that,” Prater said.

“It speaks volumes about people of different races coming together to make progress in our society,” said Kenneth Bonner, another organizer of the Tri-Cities Black Lives Matter march.

Bonner said he hopes this kind of action will spark change.

“If you look around at this whole event, there are people of different races coming together, and that’s how things are going to change in our society, its going to take a little bit of everybody regardless of race,” he said.

Prater said the response to the event has not been all positive, “the response in some cases has been quite vicious.”

The Johnson City Police Department plans to patrol the area where people will be marching, to make sure everyone is safe.

“We’re going to monitor the situation, we’re going to keep an eye out on as well, if there’s a possibility of counter-protests, that could come in, although we’ve not received any formal notification that that is going to indeed be the case,” said Lieutenant Scotty Carrier.

And while some have made comments on social media about interrupting the march, Lt. Carrier said police don’t anticipate any violence.

“We want to plan for the worst and hope for the best,” he said.

Prater said regardless of opposition, they stand behind their message.

“There is a black community here and it’s important for us to be able to speak out about injustices,” he said.

“Its not so much about one race as it is about the human race, and it takes everybody coming together to address that one issue of race,” Bonner said.

The march is Saturday, August 8, at 2 p.m. Folks will meet in the ETSU parking lot near McDonald’s.Copyright WJHL 2015. All rights reserved.

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