Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

April 21, 2013

Protesters demand justice for deceased LHS student

VALDOSTA — With shouts of “No justice, no peace,” and “Honk your horns for KJ,” demonstrators took to Downtown Valdosta Saturday afternoon, continuing what has been two weeks of protests, rallies, demonstrations and vigils for deceased Lowndes High student Kendrick “KJ” Johnson.

The first demonstration two weeks ago was held by just a handful of people, but Saturday saw hundreds of Valdostans turning out.

“The community response has been very good,” said Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick’s father. “It’s the response we expected. Everyone knows that this wasn’t an accident. ... We’ve had a lot of strangers, complete strangers come out to support us. At this point, everyone becomes family.”

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. Authorities believe Johnson was alone in the gym, reached for a loose shoe and fell into a rolled-up wrestling-type mat, became trapped, and died from being upside down for an extended period of time. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation assisted in the investigation.

The family does not agree with the sheriff’s office finding and believes Kendrick was killed. Family and friends believe the photo of Kendrick’s face after death supports their claim. The official autopsy has not yet been completed.

On Saturday, protesters took up posts at downtown street corners, centered around the courthouse. They held signs and encouraged drivers to honk their horns in support. With a grill set up and soft drinks being handed out, the demonstration sometimes had the atmosphere of a relaxed community gathering, albeit one with a somber purpose.

One of the people out protesting was Frances Matchett.

“I’m out here because I don’t know what happened to KJ,” said Frances Matchett. “Being a parent, you don’t want to see this happen to your child. ... I don’t think I could do what Kendrick’s mother is doing. She’s not being allowed to grieve. She’s still trying to figure out what happened to her child.”

Gwendolyn Nelson was also downtown Saturday afternoon as a parent.

“Everyone always thinks these things happen to other people, but I feel it could have happened to anybody’s child,” said Nelson. “This isn’t a Valdosta, Lowndes thing, a white, black, Asian, caucasian thing. This is an everybody thing.”

“One person can’t do it alone. We need the community,” said Matchett. “If there is something wrong, we need the powers that be to investigate.”

Text Only
Local News
  • doug henderson.jpg Memorial tourney returns

    The Doug Henderson III Memorial Golf Tournament has raised thousands of dollars for scholarship funds and to help organizations throughout the region.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041914-WA-Egghunt021.jpg Park puts wild spin on Easter tradition

    Adventurous egg hunters braved overcast skies and a persistent drizzle to search for hidden prizes Saturday during Wild Adventure’s first Ostrich Egg Hunt.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • FallenTree003.JPG More spills reported

    City of Valdosta employees have spent the weekend responding to spills caused by several inches of rain that have again drenched the city during the past few days.

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • Underwater Easter_Rich copy.jpg Stories behind ‘The Greatest Story Ever Told’

    Christ comes from the Greek word, “Christos,” meaning “the anointed one.”

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140418_valwood001.jpg Valwood students register to vote

    Valwood teaches its students about the importance of voting. Each year, the school has encouraged eligible seniors to register to vote and participate in local elections.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • wadebrandon14.jpg Police still seeking missing mother, son

    Though their assignments have changed during the past dozen years, Valdosta Police Capt. Bobbi McGraw and Sgt. Chris Crews continue working the case of a missing mother and her son.

    April 19, 2014 3 Photos

  • 041814-TreeDownonRobinHood.jpg Minor flooding expected

    Minor flooding of the Withlacoochee River is expected this weekend thanks to the day-long rains across South Georgia Friday, according to the National Weather Service.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 041814-TreeDownonRobinHood.jpg Wastewater hazards assessed

    During heavy rain events, five to 15 manholes throughout the city are at risk of overflowing into local waterways, according to the City of Valdosta.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140418-VSU_HSBA003.jpg Valdosta State cuts ribbon for health, business building

    Eighteen months after breaking ground on the project, Valdosta State University held the official ribbon cutting Friday for its Health Sciences and Business Administration Building.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140417-Rail_Plan-001.jpg State Transportation seeks public input on rail plan

    The Georgia Department of Transportation held public meetings across the state this week to discuss its 2014 Georgia State Rail Plan.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

Top News

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
     View Results