Protests against excessive police force are continuing to spark throughout Gwinnett County.

A couple hundred demonstrators lined both sides of Buford Highway Friday afternoon in downtown Duluth to make their voices heard and were joined by local elected officials who showed up in solidarity.

The protest in downtown Duluth Friday was on what would have been Breonna Taylor’s 27th birthday. However, on March 13 she was fatally shot by Louisville Metro Police Department officers upon entering her home. And just 11 days ago protests sparked over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

“George Floyd; Breonna Taylor; Ahmaud Arbery,” the demonstrators chanted.

Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris spoke just before the march began, with the demonstrators walking toward Buford Highway.

“I know that we are all made in the image of God and that represents unconditional love,” Harris said. “And we need to have unconditional love for every race and every culture that’s around us.”

She said specific change may take a while, but said one way to start is getting to know your neighbors.

“If you live in Duluth, I promise you your neighbor probably doesn’t look like you,” Harris said. “Get to know the people on your street. Show that you care. I know that as a white female leader it is my responsibility to promote equality and justice for everyone in my city and I plan to do that. We stand in solidarity. Your pain is our pain. Your injustice is our injustice as well.”

Crystal Chambers said she was protesting for her children, because she did not want them to experience the same things she has experienced as a black woman. Her daughters, who ranged in age from 4 to 13, niece and husband all held signs with different messages such as “black lives matter.”

“I understand that many people, including us black people, we go through a lot of stuff and just because of our skin color we shouldn’t be treated different than anybody else,” 13-year-old Rhian Hines said. “I hope to see a better future for future generations like me, my cousin and my sisters, but also when we get older and we have kids we want them to live in a better world than what’s happening now.”

State legislators and representatives from the Gwinnett Chapter of the NAACP also attended the peaceful protest in Duluth.

Sam Park, State Rep. for House District 101, said he wanted to encourage young demonstrators to transform their collective pain to collective purpose to bring about the change and justice that they are demanding.

“I think it is so important for elected officials to demonstrate that they are listening,” Park said. “That they understand the anger and pain that so many young black boys and girls, especially, are feeling so that we can move forward. ... We have an opportunity this year to elect folks who can harness and unite the diverse communities in Gwinnett, so that we can move forward stronger together. “

Park invited everyone to vote at the June 9 primary to elect the next sheriff, district attorney and other leaders in Gwinnett County.

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