Peaceful Dunwoody protest draws hundreds

Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan (third from right) takes a photo with protesters during a Tuesday afternoon demonstration. VIA DUNWOODY POLICE
Dunwoody Police Chief Billy Grogan (third from right) takes a photo with protesters during a Tuesday afternoon demonstration. VIA DUNWOODY POLICE

A few hundred people lined Ashford-Dunwoody Road Tuesday afternoon, waving signs decrying police brutality and racism as passing cars honked in solidarity.

The peaceful protesters, predominantly young adults, lined up in front of the Dunwoody Police Department and stretched about a half a mile down the sidewalk toward Perimeter Mall.


Lydia Wells, a 25-year-old black woman who grew up in the predominantly white DeKalb County city, organized the event.

"I want people to see value in black lives," she said. "It should be normal, like making your bed and brushing your teeth. Kindness. That's it."

Protests and demonstrations have taken place across the county and metro Atlanta in the wake of the death of George Floyd, the black Minneapolis man killed by police there over Memorial Day weekend. The deaths of Breonna Taylor, a Louisville woman shot and killed by police who barged into her home, and Ahmaud Arbery, the south Georgia man shot and killed by white neighbors, have also fueled the protests.

Demonstrators have marched in Atlanta for four nights and were back at Centennial Olympic Park on Tuesday afternoon. Protests were also held in Lawrenceville and Marietta on Monday.

Wells praised Dunwoody police for supporting the demonstration, walking among them and even providing donuts.

Earlier in the day, the department had tweeted that it “absolutely supports and encourages peaceful assemblies.” Chief Billy Grogan was among the officers who stopped by the event and posed for pictures with protesters.

Late Tuesday afternoon, he posted a lengthy Facebook missive saying he was "sickened" by George Floyd's death and calling for all of the officers involved to be held accountable.

He also condemned “looters and rioters” for “hijacking” the “just cause” of peaceful protesters.

“I can assure our citizens that the Dunwoody Police Department values the lives of all people and do not take our oath and the responsibilities we have as police officers and as human beings lightly,” Grogan wrote.

Wells’ mother, Tanis Singleton, said she was proud of her daughter for organizing the event. She spoke of a history of discrimination in Dunwoody, of questionable traffic stops and being turned away by realtors when her family was trying to relocate to the area years ago.

Singleton said that the recent deaths of black Americans at the hands of police was a result of systemic racism and governments that "are not connected to the citizens."

"We're in 2020 and it's still happening," Singleton said. "That's when we know there's got to be change. And it's gotta be in the leadership of government. That's where it's gonna come from.”