Valdosta Daily Times

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Kendrick Johnson

May 5, 2013

Sharpton joins ‘KJ’ rally

Urges community to come forward with any information

VALDOSTA — With supporters spilling out doors and windows and standing room only, the Saturday rally for Kendrick “KJ” Johnson at Serenity Church welcomed guest speaker Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network.

“We know what people are saying,” said Marcus Coleman, President of the Atlanta chapter of NAN. “Are those loud-mouth, ambulance chasers in this city? Yes, we are.”

On Thursday, the official autopsy released by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation concluded that the cause of Johnson’s death was “positional asphyxia” and the manner of death an accident.

“Do they think we’re stupid?” said Coleman. “That this young black child crawled into a mat and died?... I know the autopsy report came out and we don’t care what the GBI results say. We’re filing for an independent investigation with the Justice Department... It takes a little bit of time for an investigation. That’s not the issue. The issue is with the investigation itself.”

The formal request sent by Johnson’s parents, Kenneth and Jacquelyn, to the Justice Department cite three concerns: that Sheriff Chris Prine’s calling Johnson’s death an accident was premature, that Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson stated that Prine’s findings were premature and that the crime scene was compromised, and that there are “serious concerns about the objectivity and competency of those involved in this investigation.”

Before Sharpton arrived, the reverend of Serenity Church, Floyd Rose, cautioned the crowd of supporters that their fight could be a long one.

“I’ve come to welcome Al Sharpton and his people...After the celebrity wears off, I hope you understand that this movement has to stay alive,” said Rose.

Arriving suddenly to camera phone flashes and chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!,” Sharpton spoke with the crowd.

“Seven weeks ago, we got the call about Kendrick Johnson,” said Sharpton. “We were told that the findings ... by local law enforcement were done under unusual circumstances.”

Sharpton said he was impressed with Kenneth Johnson and his quest for answers, vowing to help anyway he could.

“The story got stranger and stranger. I’m not a pathologist, not a coroner, not a doctor, but I do have common sense,” said Sharpton.

Sharpton recounted his problems with the investigation, restating the ones discussed in the request to the Justice Department and adding his disbelief that Johnson went to get his shoes from inside a wrestling mat before falling into one.

“And the blood they found on the wall away from him ... they say it wasn’t Kendrick’s blood. If there was nobody there but him, who did the blood come from?”

Before taking up a collection for the Kendrick Johnson Fund, Sharpton encouraged anyone who knew anything to come forward.

“When a black man will stand up for his son ... then I’m going to stand up with him until we get answers. If you know something, tell somebody. And if you’re scared, tell us, and we’ll protect you.”

“(The rally) unified the community,” said Serenity Church administrator Percy Chastang. “And it served to notify them that there are some questions about how it was handled. The community is uncomfortable with the process. And it spoke to a wider need for sincerity about the lives of our young people, regardless of color.”

“I think the statement was made by the number of people who showed up today,” said C. B. King, attorney for the Johnsons. “They’ve been watching. I think you can tell that the people here have an excitement and a growing intolerance.”

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Kendrick Johnson
  • KJ’s parents claim racial bullying in lawsuit

    The parents of Kendrick Johnson have sued the Lowndes County School System, claiming officials neglected to protect their son from racial harassment and bullying that they said led to his death.

    May 15, 2014

  • Anonymous email in KJ case based on rumor, says author

    The teenage girl who authored an anonymous email claiming someone had confessed to murdering Kendrick Johnson says it was strictly a rumor that she felt conscience-bound to share with the sheriff’s office.

    March 27, 2014

  • keyboard.jpg Authorities: Confession in KJ case not credible

    An anonymous email claiming a former classmate of Kendrick Johnson had confessed to killing him was investigated and determined not to be credible, the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday.

    March 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • social.jpg Mom says sons harassed, threatened in KJ case

    Karen Bell has had it with the rumor-mongering about her family’s connection to the death of Kendrick Johnson on social networking sites like YouTube,  Twitter and Facebook.

    February 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • Johnsons file civil suit against funeral home

    Kendrick Johnson’s parents have filed a civil lawsuit against the Harrington Funeral Home, claiming it negligently handled their son’s remains and deliberately withheld information about the condition of his body.

    February 6, 2014

  • 140121-Floyd_Rose001.jpg No response to KJ reward

    A local civil rights leader returned reward money to its donor Tuesday after it failed to yield any significant information pertaining to the death of Kendrick Johnson.

    January 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • State capitol rally today for new KJ probe

    A three-hour rally for a new investigation into the disputed death of Lowndes High student Kendrick Johnson 11 months ago is planned today on the front steps of the Georgia Capitol building.

    December 11, 2013

  • Kendrick_Johnson.jpg Where was Kendrick?

    About this series
    This is the third of four stories by the Valdosta Daily Times reviewing the official police file on the investigation into the death of Kendrick Johnson. Today’s report is about the confusion surrounding Kendrick’s whereabouts the day before his body was found, explains police handling of a report that a person was attacked and falsely accused of killing Kendrick, and tells about the dissatisfaction of Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson with how authorities handled the immediate investigation.

    November 23, 2013 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • kendrick-johnson.jpg Finding Kendrick

    The Times continues its in-depth look at the investigative case file into the January death of Kendrick Johnson at Lowndes High School.

    November 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • kendrick-johnson.jpg Kendrick’s Final Walk

    A review of Lowndes High School video footage shows more than the moments Kendrick Johnson entered the old gymnasium where his body was discovered Jan. 11 in a rolled wrestling mat.

    November 21, 2013 1 Photo

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