‘I want to know why’: People from across Georgia gather at rally for Julian Lewis

Published: Sep. 19, 2020 at 11:38 PM EDT
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SYLVANIA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - It has been over a month since 60-year-old Julian Lewis was killed by a Georgia state trooper in Sylvania. On Saturday, people from across the state of Georgia gathered outside City Hall in Sylvania for a rally in his honor.

On August 7th, Lewis was killed after a traffic stop, turned police chase, on Stoney Pond Road.

“I want to know why. What about Julian that he didn’t like, that he had to kill him? Why? What was it? I’m just still angry about that part. I’m frustrated because I don’t know why. And I’m like, maybe he don’t even know why” said Betty Lewis the wife of Julian Lewis.

Pastor and Attorney for the Lewis family, Francys Johnson lead the crowd of nearly 100 demonstrators for the rally and short march around the downtown square.

“We’re here to dramatize the condition of Black people dying, far too many Americans dying in this country at the hands of our police” Johnson said.

Trooper Jacob Thompson was charged with felony murder and aggravated assault for the death of Lewis, but the Lewis family isn’t done fighting. Johnson, the family attorney, said they are calling for universal state standards on police use of lethal force and the release of the body camera video from the night Lewis was killed.

“Release it. We paid for it and we demand to receive that evidence” Johnson said. “Show the world why you thought it was necessary to arrest this officer within seven days. We know that, that type of data shows what we fear-- which is that Julian Lewis was treated worse than a dog would be treated.”

Despite a few threats prior to the rally and the appearance of armed opposers, everything remained peaceful.

“It’s an awesome feeling to know that we can congregate together, and our fight is for justice--we want justice. And to know that these people from different parts of Georgia are coming together with us for justice is awesome. You know we’re family--family looking out for family” said Lewis.

After the rally at City Hall, participants drove in a caravan car line to the spot where Lewis was killed. While the participants heard words from the Lewis family, organizers set up a memorial where Lewis' car stopped. The memorial featured a wreath of flowers, a cross, and a cardboard American flag with the names of several people killed by police stapled on to it.

One of Lewis' sisters gave thanks to everyone who came out.

“Today it is our family, but what family will it be tomorrow? We want answers to why this happen. We want answers y’all” she said.

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