Black Lives Matter explained by Augusta leaders

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – The killing of two men at the hands of police officers and the deadly sniper attack that followed launched protests around the country and in the Garden City.  But the question still remains why does Black Lives Matter exist in Augusta?

I spoke with three different African-Americans and they all agreed that there is a need for Black Lives Matter.  While their approach differs, they agree this isn’t just a hashtag movement.  Action needs to follow.

“The marches are essential to the revolution,” Ray Montana shouted while looking at the scales of justice on a trophy that bears his name and Street Justice Community Commitment Award.

Montana coined himself ‘Street Justice’ to help black lives in the Augusta community.

“It’s a lot of things going on politically trying to fix the infrastructure of the city more than trying to fix the people,” Montana said.  “But it’s time to fix the people because the people are suffering.”

An ex-con who walks around with a staff, Montana works to part a Red Sea much like Moses did to bring economically oppressed people out of poverty.  Although it’s mainly a hashtag and not represented by one person, he told me Black Lives Matter after people who have been without have had enough.

“We doing it to survive.  Why must we stand on the corner and sell sacks of weed or sell drugs on the corner to feed our kids some eggs, bread, and grits in the morning? Why can’t the ex-cons and ex-felons [who are] out here get a GED initiative or an educational initiative or a job creation initiative from the local government so that economically we can grow?  It’s all based on economics here.  It’s not a race issue,” he said.

Former Georgia Senate Majority Leader Charles Walker explained the solution to what Black Lives Matter is fighting to accomplish.

“What you need to do is abolish all traffic tickets and stop financing the criminal justice system on the back of the poor,” he said.

The solution?  Put the ticket in the mail to avoid another Philado Castile.  Walker also said instead of race, it’s all about the lack of money in the black community.  And not one person can go at Black Lives Matter alone.

Walker stated, “If you get it narrowed down to one or two black leaders they will get picked off so fast, it will make your head spin.  No, you don’t have a specific set of black leaders, you have a lot of leaders and there has to be more synchronization of that leadership.”

Beulah Nash -Teachey is the local leader of the NAACP.

“We need to be able to communicate,” she said.

But when I asked if Black Lives Matter overshadows the century old organization, she said the younger generation may want to slow down.

She explained, “They want to protest.  They want to march and I understand that, but on the other hand, coming together, meeting together with an idea that is going to incorporate all of the community is the best way to go.”

Nash -Teachey said the Augusta Branch NAACP, Augusta Interfaith Coalition and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Augusta met last week and targeted eight steps to move forward, one being create a communication bridge between blacks and whites.

Montana said he will release details soon about a march he’s mobilizing all to participate in at the end of this month to encourage job creation.

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