NAACP marches in Columbia to protest Ferguson decision

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia chapter of the NAACP and other organizations marched from Second Missionary Baptist Church in downtown Columbia to the Boone County Courthouse amphitheatre Tuesday evening to protest the grand jury's decision not to indict Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

Protesters started filing into Second Missionary Baptist Church starting around 4:45 p.m. They left the church at 5:15 p.m. and marched east on Broadway before turning north on 8th street toward the Boone County Courthouse. Protesters chanted phrases such as "hands up, don't shoot" as they marched. Protesters carried signs and flags, all pertaining to the decision in Ferguson. Protest leaders made sure to keep people on the sidewalk and out of the streets.

Once the march reached the Courthouse amphitheatre, several local ministers and group leaders spoke about what they call 'systematic problems' and 'continued injustice'.

Grass Roots Organizing Community Organizer Aaron Johnson said the overarching message of the march was to promote awareness.

"I think this is a moment of justice. That we see that we have a system that's broken for us and that we are gonna show that we're gonna keep being vocal," Johnson said. "We won't be silent until we live in a place that treats everyone equally."

Alaris Joyce, a protester at the courthouse gathering, said protests like this foster a sense of community.

"It shows people who may be on the line about this issue that there are other people who are there to support them in the right for justice, in the right for peace, in the right for righting the wrongs that are happening," Joyce said. "This can show people that there is a peaceful way to combat the oppression."

Karl Stout, a former U.S. Navy member, said he's proud to see so many people fighting for what they believe is right.

"I joined the Navy because I wanted to protect our country," Stout said. "I'm here trying to defend our right to not be shot, not have our children shot, and to live in peace."

With protests scheduled Tuesday in cities such as Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, Johnson said today's protest in Columbia is not a one-time thing.

"With all these movements popping up all over the country, this isn't just a moment in time, this is a movement that's beginning," Johnson said. "This is a time where we're showing all across this country that we have racial injustices that are happening, and Americans are tired of it."