In what was dubbed a “Millennials March,” a group of about 130 protesters filed past tailgaters Saturday before the first-ever game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with fists raised and promises they will be factor in local and national politics in the months and years ahead.
“This is just a fraction. This is drop in the bucket,” said Charles Bourgeois of We The People Atlanta, one of the coalition of activist and student groups behind the march. “We will determine the elected officials who run our nation.”
The group largely consisted of Morehouse and Spelman college students, and they were clear that one elected official they could do without is President Donald Trump. Expressing a common theme in recent protests, leaders of the group complained that Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., was inadequate.
“Move Trump, get out the way,” the group chanted as it left the Atlanta University Center. The chant, adapted from a song by Atlanta-based rapper Ludacris, emerged as a rallying cry in Atlanta last week in a much larger march to protest the violence in Charlottesville.
The march almost didn’t happen. Organizers said there was confusion with the campus over permits, and speeches were hastily arranged on a nearby street corner.
The protesters met with mixed reactions as they neared the new stadium where the Falcons were preparing to face the Arizona Cardinals in a National Football League exhibition game. Many took photos or honked their horns in support, while others kept their distance.
“They are all my age and seeing something like this is kind of emotional,” said Nicole Niles of Fayetteville.
Miles, who is white, said she agreed with most of what she heard from the all-black protest group, with the exception of when the group began the chant “keep Atlanta black.” That sounded wrong to her, she said.
“It’s like saying keep Peachtree City white,” she said, adding, “which it is.”
The scene did provoke some discussion among fans who milled around outside the gleaming $1.5 billion stadium. But the conversation eventually bent back to football and the news that star receiver Julio Jones, recovering from offseason foot surgery, would play.
“Write about that,” one fan said.