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More than 50 gather Saturday for unity march

NATCHEZ — More than 50 people gathered at the Natchez gazebo during the annual Juneteenth festival on Saturday for a unity march organized by local advocates of the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the nation.

Jarita Frazier-King, co-organizer of Saturday’s Southwest Mississippi Unity March, said its purpose was to draw attention to all problems the black community is facing in Natchez, south Mississippi and nationwide.

Marchers stood in protest of police brutality and also black on black crime, which appears to be a prominent problem in Natchez in recent years, local officials said.

“During 2018, we had 12 homicides right here in our city,” Natchez Police Chief Walter Armstrong said to the people gathered for Saturday’s march. “They were all African American. We’ve already established the fact that all lives matter. Let’s make sure that we galvanize our community and let them know that we do not want anyone else to lose their life to senseless killing.

“If we all work together, we can get out into these neighborhoods and we can reach those few who are making trouble and let them know that we care about them. It sickens me to know that by year-end of 2018 that 12 young black males between the ages of 18 and 25 lost their lives to senseless murder and those persons who perpetrated those crimes were also African American. While we are concerned about all lives and we are concerned about police brutality … and we are concerned about education, but we are concerned about a safe community as well.”

Members of the NAACP had a tent set up near the gazebo where marchers could sign up for a membership.

Other organizers of Saturday’s march include Kimar Cain, Terrance Hunter, Angela Brooks, Christopher Litt and Ben Tucker, King said.

The group later plans to join forces with elected officials to host Town Hall meetings to address community issues, King said.