MANSFIELD — Latonya Palmer wanted to honor Ahmaud Arbery while uniting the city.
The chairperson of the voter registration committee for the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Palmer was the mastermind behind Saturday’s memorial walk for Ahmaud Arbery.
The event began under sunny skies at Johns Park and made its way up Bowman Street to Park Avenue before ending in Central Park.
“This was an opportunity to honor Ahmaud and others and an opportunity to bring Mansfield together in love and solidarity,” Palmer said. “That was the inspiration behind the event.”
Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was shot and killed in Georgia in February after being pursued by two armed white men, 64-year-old Gregory McMichael and his son, Travis McMichael, 34. No arrests in the case were made for more than two months until the cell phone video of the slaying was leaked.
“I saw that video and I couldn’t get it out of my mind,” Palmer said. “Like a lot of people, I was shocked.”
About 50 people gathered at Johns Park for the march, including Fourth Ward Councilman Alomar Davenport.
“This is a national issue. It’s not exclusive to Georgia,” Davenport said. “It happens all across the country.”
The event culminated with a gathering at Central Park. The size of the crowd had swollen by the time it reached downtown.
“I’m pleased with the turnout,” Palmer said. “I’m sure there were a lot of people who could’t make it who wanted to, but those of us who were here were the voices for those people.”