Black Lives Matter demonstration planned Wednesday downtown

Members of Black Lives Matter Charleston and the community came together in April 2015 for a vigil to remember Walter Scott at the North Charleston City Hall.

Three college students are planning a peaceful demonstration Wednesday in downtown Charleston to rally community members around the Black Lives Matter message.

The organizers said the event is a response to the recent killings by police of two black males —Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota — as well as the sniper attack on police in Dallas that killed five officers.

“This is definitely not an anti-cop thing. This is a unity thing,” said organizer Carli Drayton, 21, of James Island, who is planning the event with Typhani Gray, 21, of West Ashley, and Paris Simmons, 20, of Charleston. The black women attended James Island Charter High School together several years ago and are home on summer break from different colleges.

They are not members of Black Lives Matter Charleston, and they haven’t participated in or organized any protests before. Drayton said they want the demonstration to clarify what the national Black Lives Matter movement means.

“We’re not saying that only black lives matter, we’re just saying that they are equal to any other lives,” Drayton said.

The organizers have notified police, the Charleston Branch of the NAACP, Black Lives Matter Charleston and Charleston Mayor John Tecklenburg’s office about the event. They circulated an online poster about the gathering on social media to encourage anybody interested to participate.

The details are still being confirmed, according to Drayton, but the plan is to meet with participants at 6 p.m. Wednesday outside Emanuel AME Church, 110 Calhoun St., and walk down the sidewalk to Marion Square.

Those who plan to attend are encouraged to wear black and bring signs and banners.

Reach Abigail Darlington at 937-5906 and follow her on Twitter @A_Big_Gail