VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - An Atlanta organization was demanding Monday that Lowndes High School honor Kendrick Johnson, the student who was found dead in the school in January, 2013.
The protestors claimed they walked 17 miles a day for four days to get to Lowndes High School. Five of them were arrested at the board of education building just down the street from the high school and charged with criminal trespassing. The Lowndes County Sheriff's Office said they tried to walk through the parking lot to get to the high school after being told repeatedly to stop.
The members of "commUNITY Atlanta" gathered at the entrance to Lowndes County High School to demand that the school hold a four minute moment of silence at the 2015 graduation ceremony to honor Kendrick and to commemorate the four days the group spent walking to get to the school.
They also wanted the school to issue Kendrick an honorary diploma and to allow his sister Kenyetta to walk at graduation and receive the diploma. She was not allowed to participate in her class's commencement in 2013.
"She had memorabilia of Kendrick Johnson on her clothing and she wasn't allowed to walk," said protester Marlie Mahogany.
Lowndes County Sheriff Chris Prine was at the protest, and protesters let him and the other law enforcement on scene know their feelings. They said the sheriff's office refuses to release the truth about Johnson's death. "Who do you think you talkin' to? We know that he was murdered," shouted one protester.
But, the sheriff's office was not upset. "If somebody has a different set of information that's reviewable, certainly we would welcome them to sit down and review that information," said Lowndes County Sheriff's Office Lt. Stryde Jones.
But, Mahogany said it should be up to a judge to decide whether the sheriff's office is telling the truth about Johnson's death. "At least if this case was taken to trial and a judge would take this case, that that could be determined," Mahogany emphasized.
Kendrick Johnson was found dead and upside down in a rolled up gym mat in the Lowndes High gym in January, 2013. The sheriff's office concluded that his death was a tragic accident, but the family continues to believe he was murdered.
In October, 2013 U.S. Attorney Michael Moore began an investigation into the death and as of Monday there was no word on when it would be completed.
The protesters also emailed a list of their demands to the school district. WALB confirmed Monday afternoon that the school district had received the e-mail, but WALB was not able to confirm if or how the school district planned to respond.