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Liberty residents, leaders protest grand-jury verdicts
Midway resident Cordell Williams, front right, and Liberty County Commissioner Justin Frasier, front left, lead demonstrators in a march through downtown Hinesville during a peaceful protest Friday afternoon. - photo by Photo by Jeremy McAbee

Roughly 30 Liberty County residents and elected officials demonstrated peacefully in downtown Hinesville Friday afternoon.

Midway resident Cordell Williams said he organized the “die-in” as a protest against what he perceives as injustices happening across the country.

“When I saw the verdict come out … the first one hurt. The second one devastated me,” he said, referencing recent grand-jury decisions in Ferguson, Missouri, and New York City to not indict white police officers involved in the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, respectively.

“After you feel hurt, once you become angry, you want to make change,” Williams continued. “We can still make change and still make our voices heard without violence.”

Protestors — including Liberty County Commissioners Justin Frasier and Gary Gilliard, Hinesville Mayor Pro Tem Charles Frasier, Walthourville City Councilwoman Luciria Lovette and State Rep. Al Williams, D-Midway gathered at noon in Bradwell Park.

“We have to protest when we can because we’re working toward making things better,” Gilliard said, following a prayer offered by Rep. Williams. “You can let it go because it may not affect you. But I can guarantee you, it’s not you today, but it could be you tomorrow.”

Gilliard also invoked the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.: “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Rep. Williams and Mayor Pro Tem Frasier expressed parallels between the day’s protest and demonstrations they’d taken part in nearly 50 years earlier.

“It’s moving to me to be here, because this is nothing new,” Rep. Williams said. “I am so glad we realize that the struggle continues. It changes faces, but it is the same struggle that has gone on forever.”

“A peaceful protest is simply a way of getting the word out, of letting people know that this is, in our mind, in our view, an injustice,” Mayor Pro Tem Frasier added.

Demonstrators marched around Bradwell Park, down South Main Street in front of the historic courthouse, around the courthouse annex and up Commerce Street.

The protest ended with a “die-in” in front of the historic courthouse. Demonstrators laid on the ground for four minutes and 30 seconds, representative of the four hours and 30 minutes that Michael Brown’s body laid on a Ferguson street.

Protestors emphasized that the day’s demonstration was not aimed against law-enforcement officers.

“Folks don’t need to start this foolishness about ‘black folks don’t like police’ — that’s not true,” Rep. Williams said. “We don’t like wrong from anybody, regardless of what your position (is).”

Cordell Williams noted that he has a great rapport with Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes, and stated he feels Sikes does a lot of good for the local community.

“This is not us versus the police,” he said. “There’s a lot of injustice that’s going on, and we have to speak out on it.”

“You’re here just to say, ‘We can’t live in a county named Liberty and don’t act like we believe in liberty,” Rep. Williams added.

“We’re not here to separate,” Commissioner Frasier said. “We’re here to unify.”

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