ELLIJAY, Ga. – Many rumors and concerns have begun spreading today as citizens have seen social media posts about a rally in Downtown Ellijay tomorrow.
As police and public safety prepare for the event, Captain Grace of the Ellijay Police Department spoke with FYN explaining that the protesters have applied for a permit for the event and that they are working alongside the participants to “provide a safe area” that they can exercise their constitutional right to rally.
Further, the Ellijay Police Department posted today on social media saying, “We are working with a group of local young men and women, many of them students and former students of Gilmer High, who desire to rally in the downtown area. Their stated purpose is to voice their concerns about perceived social injustices. As of this afternoon, they have applied for a permit to rally and it appears at this time that there is no reason to deny them permission to peacefully assemble.”
Police said in their post that they fully expect a peaceful rally. Capt. Grace also shared that he spoke with some of the students involved and that the police have plans to make an area available and to have an increase in police presence to protect citizens and to protect the protesters. Grace even said that should the event participants grow in number past what is expected, the police already have plans to relocate the event to a more open and conducive space so as to provide for those present.
As of now, the Ellijay Police Department and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office are both coordinating on the event, along with outside agencies, to “ensure that this is a peaceful rally.”
The Ellijay Police stated, “We have two objectives, to ensure that the right to peacefully voice grievances are heard and to ensure life safety and property preservation.”
A few shop owners downtown declined to comment about the rally but many others are voicing concerns on social media after the recent news from Atlanta and other major cities.
Police stated, “We want to provide assurances to all those we serve; the organizers of this event have asked us to help them ensure that no one hijacks their rally by using violence or any other form of disruption. It is our full intent to ensure that this happens.”
Capt. Grace also confirmed that the application request is for the roundabout itself. Currently, it is believe that those involved will be located in the central area by the fountain.
Additionally, the Ellijay Police Department made another post recently on similar issues about the current protests in larger cities. This earlier post was a longer one, in which Chief Edward Lacey, named at the bottom of the post, stated that he wanted to support the people and provide safety in these situations. The post stated, “We understand we serve groups which vary in background, ideology, race, religion, national origin and more. We are committed to holding ourselves to a high standard which ensures justice and equality for all. We also understand that there are many groups who, through a collective voice, stand up against oppression and injustice. We also stand for justice and equality and stand against any type of oppression.”
It continued on to explain how many demonstrations are started legitimately and for one purpose, but others would usurp that purpose through violence and fear for their own reasons and purposes. But they also spoke about the process of permitting and legally gathering to demonstrate upon City Property. It stated, “We represent and serve all citizens regardless of ideology. We ask that everyone know about this process and please allow us to work with you to help you maintain legitimacy for your message.”
The rally is set to begin at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow, June 4, 2020.