UTC Students Attend BLM Protest Downtown

By Lorena Grajales, News Editor

A Black Lives Matter protest was held in downtown Chattanooga on Wednesday, Sept. 3 around 6 p.m. at Miller Park, led by the organization “I Can’t Breathe Chattanooga”, ignited by several recent police brutality attacks across the nation.

Demanding change and racial equity, people of all ages including children, students and other members of the community gathered on the field wearing BLM shirts, holding posters and signs to express their support for the movement.

Organization leaders provided food and water for protestors as they prepared to march through the streets. Event organizer, activist and artist Cameron “C-Grimey” Williams, shared his feelings on protesting for this cause.

“We’ve already seen that we’ve got several demands met by being out in the streets and making our voice heard, so this is a tangible way to make change. Don’t let the narrative that this is worthless, deter you. This is really how change gets made,” he said.

Williams claimed this protest was not intended to spark violence, because it would de-value the message and criminalize the movement. According to an anonymous legal observer present at the protest, their specific job was to keep watch on police officers in the area.

“A legal observer watches the police, to ensure that what they’re doing is constitutionally sound, and doesn’t violate any laws. And then also records that information in the case if something goes wrong, then it’s important to have evidence for potentially a criminal case,” the source said.

Before the march, activist Marie Mott took the stage, to call out specific men in power such as Hamilton County District Attorney Neil Pinkston and Judge Gary Starnes, for “unjustly bringing charges against black and brown protestors” and “making impartial verdicts against black protestors,” which she claimed were acts of white supremacy.

Mott also used her platform to stress the importance of defunding the police, holding Chattanooga law enforcement officials accountable and urged citizens to act fast by making phone calls, sending letters, and continuing to protest.

“We’re about to apply some pressure like you’ve never seen before,” she said.

UTC saw similar requests being made on campus this past summer, when student-led organization, “Concerned Citizens for Justice” protested on Chamberlain field to disarm and defund the school’s police department.

Now, they show solidarity towards the movement by attending public protests, hoping for change.

The march started on the corner of West MLK Boulevard and Georgia Avenue, with megaphones in hand and a snare drum playing in unison to the protestors’ chants of, “the people united will never be divided” and “no justice, no peace!”

Protestors made a stop in front of the Hamilton County Jail to show solidarity to those who have been, and are still imprisoned unjustly. UTC senior Jonah Stokes stated his opinion on the event and hopes of change for the city.  

“Our system is completely based off of white supremacy, and that is not okay for me…I just want the people who are empowered to see that they messed up, that they’re not standing up for the people, and that the power is in the people,” he said.

Towards the end, the crowed marched to the Hamilton County Courts Building, where Motts took the time to give a speech focused on hate crimes, mass incarceration, equality and reallocating police funds towards education in impoverished Chattanooga schools.

Protestors made their way down Market Street, past Miller Plaza and back to their starting point at Miller Park. UTC junior Marlon Carter shared his thoughts on the protest, and his call to action for other students.

“We’re all brothers and sisters, keep fighting the power. We’re all comrades, on UTC Campus and off UTC campus. We need to stop going around thinking we better than each other just because some position or just because some skin color,” he said.

To get more information about the “I Can’t Breathe Chattanooga” organization, please visit their website at www.icantbreathecha.org

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