Protest at City Hall

By: Andrea Williams

SMYRNA, Ga- Protestors gather at City Hall in Smyrna Georgia on Monday to demonstrate their opposition to the promotion of a police officer to lieutenant.

On March 24, 2015, Smyrna Officer Mark Cole, Chris Graeff and Lieutenant Kenneth Owens, then Sergeant assisted Cobb County Police Officers to serve a misdemeanor probation warrant to victim Nicholas Thomas.

Nicholas was at work at the Goodyear located on Cumberland Parkway.

Seen on the surveillance footage, Nicholas was seen driving the Maserati he was told to pull forward for a customer back and forth trying to avoid police.

Officers were seen chasing the vehicle on foot releasing the K9 unit in anticipation Nicholas would flee on foot.

According to reports Officer Owens claims that he fired three shots because he thought Officer Cole and his K9 unit were about to get struck by the car, killing Nicholas.

On July 9, 2015, the Thomas family and Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds opened a case to a grand jury, who decided not to bring charges against Sergeant Owens.

This past Monday, Sergeant Kenneth Owens was promoted to Lieutenant. Protestors gathered to express their disapproval of the city’s decision.

Chair of New Rose Human Rights Organization Gerald Rose states, “the movement must continue.” Rose was among many demonstrators who chanted this phrase. “It’s times we boycott the economy,” Rose continued.

Many young men and women were seen on site to express how they felt about the promotion of Lieutenant Owens.

Director of National Outreach Sherie Anderson says, “it’s time for young men and women to get educated and get involved.”

Brenda Watson gave more information on the reopening of the case to U.S. Attorney General Office. “What is supposed to be made public record is not public record,” Watson states, “a lot of the investigative work has been done by us.”

Watson goes on to state that they went to the U.S. Attorney General Office only after finding out the Georgia Bureau of Investigation did not do an actual investigation but only confirmed what the Cobb County Police Department already stated.

Along with the many African American demonstrators stood a multitude of diverse ethnicities. Both sides were happy to come together for a cause they all believed in.

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Protestors sign speaks out against officer promotion in Smyrna, Monday, Feb. 15 2016. (JEM Capstone/Andrea Williams)

One Caucasian protestor states, “it is like they put a bounty out the cop collects the bounty.”  This protestor goes on to say how he was once blinded by his ignorance and how because of a fellow student when he was in school made him more aware. “Sometimes the people don’t recognize their own power,” he states, “but the system does.”

The Nick Justice Protest raised awareness for the community and made a stand for what they believe in. The Thomas family hope to continue the investigation and spread the story of their son and his tragic death.  Many demonstrators plan to remain voicing their outrage and are determined to make a change so no more people end up like Nick Thomas.

We reached out to speak with Smyrna Police Office, but none were available to comment.

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