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'I'm never gonna compare a black life to a building' | Generations of protesters want a new future

Younger voices are seeking results - and new ways of achieving their mission.

ATLANTA — There is a video spreading around Facebook and Twitter from a protest in North Carolina. It has been shared tens of thousands of times.

"Always standing around waiting for a Kumbaya," yelled a man who says he's 45 years old. "Ain't nobody coming to protect us!"

A fellow protester, who says he's 31, passionately speaks with the man, then pulls in a younger man into the circle.

“He’s 16! He’s 16!” the 31-year-old says.

“And they’re gonna kill him next week," responds the 45-year-old. "What are we gonna do?"

“You tell me!” the man says. 

It's a peek inside of generations at a loss, amidst a cycle they believe they can’t stop.

“What I’m seeing are people that are hurting, that are in pain," says Georgia state Senator Nikema Williams. "And people are processing their grief in very different ways.”

There's tension around what progress looks like, and what it will take to get there. Sen. Williams, Chairwoman of the Georgia Democratic Party says she wants people to turn their energy to the upcoming election on June 9. But, she won’t criticize those who took out their anger on property.

Credit: AP
Demonstrators march, Sunday, May 31, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP)

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“I’m never gonna compare a black life – or any life, for that matter – to a building," Sen. Williams said.

ACLU of Georgia political director Christopher Bruce has been working in Brunswick since the death of Ahmaud Arbery. On Saturday morning, he offered pro bono legal services to anyone arrested while peacefully protesting.

But, of those doing otherwise?

“I’m not gonna criticize anyone," Bruce said, "for the types of things that they’re doing or the way that they’re protesting.”

That tension has existed all weekend.

On Saturday Jaylen Brown of the Boston Celtics led a protest in Atlanta, and he said that he chose to be peaceful. Brown tweeted, “Do not confuse the response of the oppressed, with the violence of the oppressor.”

During the fires Friday night, rapper and activist Killer Mike said, “It is your duty not to burn your own house down out of anger for an enemy.”

Later, though, Mike added, “That is why children are burning it to the ground, because they don’t know what else to do.”

Taos Wynn of the Millennial Civil Rights Campaign condemned the looting and burning. For him, and so many others, the next steps are what matter most.

“What you saw in terms of looting, in terms of destroying property, that’s not the narrative," Wynn said. “We can’t just repeat actions we’ve seen in the past. There’s a specific wisdom for our generation to get through this time and really become better.”

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