A planned protest in Sylvania Saturday at 1 p.m. called the "Justice Caravan for Julian Lewis" is expected to draw several hundred people and organizers say they will bring the protest to the Bulloch County Courthouse in Statesboro later Saturday afternoon.
Lewis was killed during a traffic stop in Screven County on Aug. 7 and former Georgia State Patrol Trooper Jacob Thompson is charged with his murder.
While there are rumors fueled on social media that the protests in Sylvania and Statesboro may be violent, rally organizers and attorneys Francys Johnson and Mawuli Davis, who are representing the Lewis family, said the rallies will be peaceful.
In response to concerns of local residents, Statesboro Police Chief Mike Broadhead posted the following statement to the Statesboro Police Department's Facebook page:
A note from the Statesboro Chief of Police:
"There is a tremendous amount of anxiety, fear, and anger in our society right now, and our community is not immune.
There has been a lot of social media chatter regarding a planned rally/protest scheduled for tomorrow (September 19th). Statesboro is not the focus of the rally, but may have some involvement. Unfortunately, social media can often serve as an echo chamber where we listen to the things that confirm our fears or anxiety, and disregard everything else. This serves to feed our fear and anger and doesn't bring us together as a community.
Please know that I have taken a solemn oath to defend our Constitution and to uphold the rule of law. I will put my own body in peril in order to ensure that others get to assemble and speak their minds. I will also put my own body at peril in order to protect the lives of others and to protect the public and private property of those in our community.
The credo of our police department is “Duty-Honor-Community.”
Not just words to read, but words to live by. I will do my Duty to defend the Constitutional Rights of others, and to defend the rule of law. I will serve with Honor, and I will defend my Community.
For those of you stressing out and dealing with anxiety over a scheduled assembly tomorrow, please go about your day normally. Let me stress out about keeping the community safe in all regards...that's what you pay me to do!
Our police department stands ready to protect the rights of those who choose to gather and speak, and our police department stands ready to protect life and property from anyone with ill intent. The organizers have called for a peaceful protest, and we will work with them to ensure that remains the case.
Let's ALL be sure that we conduct ourselves in such a manner as to bring honor to our families and to unite our community. After all, we are all in this thing together!"