The Valdosta Daily Times
Over 100 supporters gathered on Saturday afternoon to march and rally in search of justice for Kendrick Johnson.
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hosted the rally and march, with special attendance from Edward DuBose, president of the Georgia State Conference NAACP, as well as members of NAACP Unit 5227 Pierce County out of Blackshear.
Supporters began the rally by marching around the Lowndes County Judicial/Administrative complex seven times. The decision to walk around seven times was symbolic of the Israelites destroying the wall of Jericho after walking around it for seven days. The large train of people, led by Kendrick Johnson’s family, chanted words of support including, “No justice, no peace,” and “What do we want? Justice. When do we want it? Now.”
Following the march, everyone gathered at the steps of the complex to listen to several motivational speakers. Speakers for the event included DuBose; Chevene King, the Johnsons’ attorney; Kendrick Johnson’s parents; Bobby Worthy, President and CEO of the Justice League United; and Larry Lockey, NAACP Coordinator of District 15 and 18.
King addressed the crowd saying, “Those who have gathered here today are here to say KJ will not be ignored.” He spoke of the second autopsy results as well saying, “We must remain vigilant, patient and ever faithful that this autopsy is going to solve another piece of the puzzle.”
Kendrick’s father spoke to the crowd saying, “We all just talk, talk, talk, but now it’s time to stand up and fight. We, as people, will kill each other for stepping on each other’s sneaker, but when it’s time to step up we want to shut our mouth. We want to do all of these evil things to one another, but then when someone threatens our jobs or threatens to put us in jail we shut up. We’re gonna stand up. I’ll give my life for mine. I don’t know what you’ll do for yours, but I am giving my life for mine.”
Many speakers cited the words of Martin Luther King Jr. DuBose, however, cited another significant African-American man.
“I didn’t come in the words of Dr. King, though I respect him. I came in the words of Malcolm X, and if we are going to win this fight, it’s going to be ‘by any means necessary.’” He also said of the case of Johnson, “You may have killed KJ, but you didn’t kill his dream. You may have killed KJ but all you have done is brought a community together that is real and right for justice.”
In January, Kendrick Johnson, 17, was found dead in the old Lowndes High gymnasium on the school campus. Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office proclaimed no foul play in the case on the same day as the teen’s body was discovered.
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that Johnson was alone in the gym, reached for a loose shoe and became trapped in a rolled-up wrestling-type mat, and died from being upside down for an extended period of time.
The state’s autopsy confirmed these findings and concluded the death was accidental. The Johnson family has not agreed with the findings and has continued rallying outside of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex in the weeks since the autopsy was returned.
Earlier this month, a court order allowed the Johnsons to exhume their son’s body for a second autopsy. Kendrick Johnson’s body was exhumed from Sunset Hill Cemetery; the second autopsy results are pending