The Valdosta Daily Times
Following weeks of daily demonstrations and a series of rallies demanding justice for a student found dead earlier this year in Lowndes High School, seven demonstrators were arrested Thursday for blocking the doors of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex.
The mother and father of the late Kendrick Johnson, 17, were among the people arrested, according to the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office.
Early Thursday afternoon, seven of the demonstrators left what has become the usual demonstration sites along downtown sidewalks and nearby street corners to stand in front of the Lowndes County Judicial Complex doors. They held hands refusing to let people in or out of the public building, said Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine.
When the demonstrators refused to move, sheriff’s deputies took them into custody, Prine said.
Kenneth Johnson, Kendrick’s father, Jacquelyn Johnson, Kendrick’s mother, Lydia Whitlock, Barbara Jones, Keisha Moore, Anastasia Roe, and Tesha Marshall are each charged with misdemeanor interference with government property, said Lowndes County Sheriff’s Lt. Stryde Jones.
As of Thursday evening, they were still in Lowndes County Jail awaiting a bond hearing.
In January, Kendrick Johnson was found dead in the old gymnasium on the LHS 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 family does not agree with this finding and believes Kendrick was killed. Family and supporters believe the photo of Kendrick’s face after death supports their claim. The official autopsy has not yet been completed, and the sheriff’s office has said the case remains open.
Earlier this month, family and supporters became regular downtown fixtures holding signs demanding “Justice for KJ,” and others showing the bloated condition of Kendrick’s face and head after death. They have gathered along downtown sidewalks and street corners daily for nearly three weeks. Two large rallies attracted hundreds of supporters last week.