Roswell, Johns Creek protesters speak on why they march

A peaceful protester in Roswell marched Friday with his future children in mind. Ethan Rowe is white, his girlfriend is black. Rowe said, marching in protests to spread the message that black lives matter prepares him for the day that he becomes a father.

Rowe and two close friends, James Rhodes and Grace Slewitzke, led about 200 Roswell High School alumni on a protest march along Alpharetta Highway to city hall. When they arrived, the protesters lined each side of Hill Street - the side street along the building - took a knee and paused in silence for eight minutes and 46 seconds in honor of George Floyd. That was the length of time that Derek Chauvin, the former Minnesota police officer, pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck.

The protesters then sang “Happy Birthday” for Breonna Taylor, who was killed in March in Louisville, Kentucky, after police officers executed a search warrant at her apartment.

Rowe believes some Roswell residents don't feel a connection to the protests that have taken place in downtown Atlanta since Floyd died in police custody on Memorial Day. He wants the community to have a deeper conversation around race.

“My son or daughter is going to be half black,” he said. “Anybody who has a prejudice against that isn’t going to be looking at the white, they’re going to see black. So, I’m trying to educate myself as much as I can, to understand and help, and use my privilege to give a voice to my community.

Johns Creek 

Similar to Rowe, four protesters in Johns Creek want to broaden the conversation on race in their city and led a protest of 100 people along Old Milton Parkway, Friday.

Tarah Anderson, Aliyah Montgomery, Da’Naja Ellerby and Haley Anthony have been friends since eighth grade, and they’re now sophomores at three different colleges. The friends, who are African American, said they protest for black lives with the memory of hearing fellow students making racial remarks in high school.

Anthony and Montgomery have attended three nights of protests in downtown Atlanta.

“We wanted to bring the peaceful protests out here,” Anthony said. “When you see the pain in peoples’ eyes and hear the stories from peoples’ mouths, it’s very hard to ignore.”

During their protest march, passersby honked horns from the road in support, but there was one who shouted profanity at the marchers, Haley said.

“We just want to be heard and we want to feel like we have a country that stands for us as African Americans,” Montgomery said. “Right now, we don’t feel that way. They want us to feel ‘land of the free and home of the brave,’ but we don’t feel free, we don’t feel supported, we don’t feel represented by the government.”