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New civil rights movement evolving, but still defining itself | News

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New civil rights movement evolving, but still defining itself

ATLANTA -- There are a lot of different groups in what started out as the Ferguson Protest Movement.

Some walk in lock step. Others go their own way. And still others try to steal the momentum of the more popular groups.

11Alive's Keith Whitney talked with folks from #ShutItDownATL and #ItsBiggerThanYou for a look at what's driving this phenomenon.

The movement has not only taken on a life of its own, it is evolving almost daily.

And while it may appear to be local, its reach has become global through social media.

"We have the ability to get support from the Palestinians to our movement and the Ferguson people to tell us how to deal with tear gas," said Yoehzer Benyeeftahk of #ItsBiggerThanYou. "And we do have the ability to get solidarity with the people in China and the protestors in Brazil. We have the ability through social media to contact them in an instant."

Yoehzer Benyeeftahk (@almostYoehzer), Aurielle Marie (@Ellevation_), and Tim Franzen are now familiar faces in the Atlanta protests, which is a double edged sword, because they say the police have begun to target them.

"(The police) knew who I was, and they knew what my role was in this work," said Marie. "And they knew what my role was since August in this community; and I think the arrest was to intimidate me."

"I think this is a strategy from an old playbook by law enforcement," said Franzen. "To attempt to arrest those they think would make it difficult to stay organized."

"I believe that police all over the nation believe we are afraid of going to jail," added Benyeeftahk. "And that's not the case. What we're afraid of is raising sons in a land where people will kill them."

The groups are still defining themselves, even while building their identities.


"It's difficult to simplify and put it in a box," said Marie of their mission. "We're tearing down a lot of different walls at the same time and that's where our power is."

Atlanta police say in no uncertain terms that they are not targeting the perceived leadership of the local movement. But if someone is breaking the law… and are warned about it… they run the risk of going to jail.