Some 2,000 march in downtown Atlanta following Charlottesville 

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Some 2,000 march in downtown Atlanta following Charlottesville 

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Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Atlanta ahead of a march to the tomb of Martin Luther King Jr. Photo: Johnny Edwards/AJC

Some 2,000 people marched from downtown Atlanta to the tomb of Martin Luther King, Jr. Saturday night, quietly filing into the civil rights leader’s resting place as they protested racially-charged violence in Charlottesville.

Teacher Jamae Morris, of Atlanta, brought her 12 year-old daughter Amari.

"Right now is the time to make sure our voices are heard. I wanted her to know that her voice is important too," Morris said.

Ashley Johnson, a 23-year-old Gwinnett County day care center worker, said she found out about the march through Facebook, and showed up to demonstrate solidarity with the counter-protesters in Virginia.

"Something has to be done about what's going on right now," she said of the rise of white supremacist groups.

Maria Schofer, who drove downtown from Kennesaw, said she worried about confrontations breaking out, even though she'd seen no one voicing any opposing opinions.

She carried a handmade sign that said, "I can't believe I have to protest Nazis in 2017."

"I'd like to tell the white supremacists," she said, "and anybody that supports them that we will not allow that platform, that hatred."

The crowd began spilling out of Centennial Olympic Park a little after 7 p.m. chanting

“the people united will never be defeated.”

It was the first protest for 59-year-old Eric Bushart and his wife Paige, of Marietta. What brought him out?

"Everything that's happened this week,” he said. “I kind of thought we were past all this stuff."

Janel Green, co-founder of the Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, said the event was designed to protest last week’s dramatic events in Charlottesville, when marches by white supremacists led to counter-demonstrations, violent clashes and ultimately the death of a woman who was run down by a car. Green said the Atlanta gathering was designed to be a non-violent resistance to hate.

"Follow the march, follow the route and follow the plan. If you've come today to be violent, get the hell out," one of organizers said from podium.

Attendees spoke out against Confederate symbols and street names that still populate Georgia and metro-Atlanta.

"We're going to tell our mayor and we're going to tell our city council every Confederate street in this city has to be changed," Democratic Mayoral candidate Vincent Fort. The same goes for statues in Piedmont Park, he added.

But Tiffany Roberts Williams, of Black Lives Matter spoke out against "living, breathing Confederate monuments" such as police, the mayor and the city council. "We're not taking down symbols we're taking down systems and people," she said.

Earlier in the day, tens of thousands of counterprotesters crammed Boston Common and marched through that city’s streets. They were trying to drown out a planned “free speech” rally that many feared might spark violence. 

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