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Peaceful push for justice

Justice and a spirit of harmony were the themes of a protest pushing for improved community policing and equal justice which was held on the Pike County courthouse square Sunday, June 14. Protestors held signs with messages like ‘End Police Brutality Now,’ ‘Black Lives Matter,’ ‘Racism Ends Now,’ and ‘No Justice, No Peace’ as they walked around the courthouse twice before hearing from local pastors on the south lawn of the courthouse. ’No one is stating that only black lives matter but all lives matter cannot happen without black people. Nobody is free until everybody is free,’ said Pastor Quin Baker of New Mount Calvary in Concord who prayed for a spirit of harmony on the proceedings. Pastor Quin said racism stretches further than the police force and that diversity is needed on the management level across the board. He said he plans to build a relationship with local law enforcement to create a program to mentor teens with criminal backgrounds. He said King Nebuchadnezzar could not stand the fact that he saw four men after he threw three men in the fiery furnace. ’We might be in the fire right now, but God is in it with us,’ he said. ‘We need pastors in this county that will preach like Jesus, who will say from their pulpits that black lives matter and that you must love your brother and sister. There ain’t no black heaven and there ain’t no white heaven. No matter what you are facing, be determined to stand up for what is right.’ Rev. Fred Blackmon, who served more than 40 years on the Pike County board of education, encouraged unity among all of God’s people. ’Where’s there unity, there’s strength. Let’s speak his love. If it was not for his love, where would we be?’ he asked, noting that he was asked why the event in Zebulon was being planned. ’We’re going to Zebulon to set an example to show outsiders how people ought to live and get along with one another. Shout out ‘˜Ought to live and get along with one another.’ When my brother hurts, I hurt. When my brother rejoices, I rejoice.’ Rev. Willie Curtis asked the crowd to observe 8:46 seconds of silence in honor of the late George Floyd. ’We give God thanks and in spite of our difficulties and struggles, we still have to give God thanks,’ he said. ‘He is always just. He cannot be unjust. He defends and sets the standard for justice. Peace means freedom from disturbance. Without justice, there will never be any peace. You don’t know what injustice feels like until you spend the night in my house, until you spend a day in my shoes. Breonna Taylor was shot with a no-knock warrant, on Feb. 23, Ahmaud Arbery was taking a jog and was killed, gunned down in Brunswick, Gearogia, Eric Garner was selling cigarettes on the streets of New York and was killed, Trayvon Martin was gunned down, Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri and George Floyd was killed because they said he passed a fake $20 bill. It’s not just in Pike County, Georgia but in Germany, in Italy and all over the world, George Floyd has brought us all together to fight injustice.’ Rev. Curtis quoted Martin Luther King’s Let Freedom Ring speech, replacing the word freedom with the word justice. ’Let justice ring. From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let justice ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let justice ring. From the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, let justice ring. We ought to let justice ring right here in Pike County, Georgia and in ever city and every village and every mountain and every valley across the world.’

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