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Troup County law enforcement agencies gear up to escort Selma marchers

Journey for Justice to arrive Friday

By Melanie Ruberti

mruberti@civitasmedia.com

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LaGRANGE — When marchers with America’s Journey for Justice cross into Troup County at the Georgia-Alabama line Friday, they will be greeted by law enforcement officers from a variety of agencies and municipalities.

With Georgia State Patrol leading the way, each department is tasked with making sure the group stays safe as marchers use U.S. Highway 29 as their guide through the county, planned to start in West Point on Saturday and end in Hogansville on Monday.

The Journey for Justice march is to emphasize the need for more fair and equitable rights in the areas of voting, labor, employment, public education and criminal justice, according to information from the NAACP. To prove their point, folks are walking from Selma, Alabama, to the U.S. Capitol.

The group also will hold teach-ins, or discussions, at 7 p.m. Friday to Monday at First United Methodist Church of LaGrange, 401 Broad St., on various topics. Everything is free and open to the public.

LaGrange police Lt. Mark Kostial said LaGrange Police Department has been coordinating with GSP on the march since June 22. LPD officers will be tasked with making sure the dozens of marchers can safely cross key intersections along U.S. 29 while inside the city limits.

Kostial said these areas include: West Point at Roanoke roads, Morgan Street at Lafayette Parkway, New Franklin Road at Commerce Avenue and the intersection of Commerce Avenue, Youngs Mill and Hogansville roads.

According to law enforcement officials, the Journey for Justice has been covering between 11 and 20 miles each day. The number of people walking has varied too. Kostial said LPD is preparing for every scenario.

“We’ve got everything covered,” he explained. “It seems the logistical issues have been worked out. Will we have 150 people each day? We don’t know. It could be slightly more, it could be slightly less.”

Kostial said the walk usually ends every day around 4 p.m., at which time a bus will pick up the marchers and take them to LaGrange for the teach-ins.

But he warned those who want to join the walkers need to make their own contingency plans — find an authorized lot to park in and make sure you have your own method of transportation of getting back. As of right now, no additional transportation is being provided for those who decide to join the Journey for Justice on their own.

Kostial also said LPD will have extra patrols on duty this weekend and asked motorists to be extra cautious and patient if they spot the marchers walking along the roadway.

The local chapter of the NAACP said Troup County is just part of the 860-mile journey from Selma to Washington, D.C., where the group plans to end the march and hold a rally Sept. 16.

LOCATION CHANGE

The location of the teach-ins planned for the Journey for Justice march has changed. The teach-ins will be held at First United Methodist Church in LaGrange, 401 Broad St. The teach-in times are 7 p.m. Friday to Monday. The following topics are on tap:

• Friday: Community mass meeting.

• Saturday: Economic justice.

• Sunday: Voting rights.

• Monday: Legislative.

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter at LaGrange Daily News. She may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.