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Black Lives Matter Aiken Movement hoping for largest demonstration yet on Saturday

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BLM march

A march held on June 7 drew hundreds to downtown Aiken. The Black Lives Matter Aiken Movement is hoping Saturday's event will bring in far more. 

The Black Lives Matter Aiken Movement in hoping to host its largest demonstration yet in downtown Aiken on Saturday. 

The group's "Juneteenth Justice Ride and Rally" is expected to host at least 1,500 motorcyclists for a tribute ride by local group King Me MC, said Makenzie Johnson, a BLM Aiken Movement organizer. 

Following the tribute ride, a march will take place in downtown Aiken leading participants to Newberry Street to hear various speakers, including the mother of Ahmaud Arbery, Johnson said.  

Arbery, a 25-year-old black man, was killed Feb. 23 when a father and son, both white, armed themselves and pursued him after he was spotted running in their neighborhood, the Associated Press reported. More than two months passed before authorities arrested Gregory McMichael, 64, and his son, Travis McMichael, 34, on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault. 

"I think it's important for people to hear her story everywhere," Johnson said. "There are plenty of mothers who can relate and understand what she is going through."

Youth from the Aiken County Branch of the NAACP will also speak on the historical significance and importance of Juneteenth, which is celebrated on June 19 each year. 

The unofficial American holiday commemorates the date in 1865 when President Abraham Lincoln's order to free American slaves reached Galveston, Texas.  

The BLM Aiken Movement has joined several other movements across the world in hosting events calling for the end of racial injustice and police brutality. 

The group's first demonstration at the H. Odell Weeks Activities Center on June 6 drew hundreds of protesters carrying signs, as did the group's child-led march through downtown Aiken on June 7. 

'I can't breathe': Hundreds take part in peaceful demonstration against racial injustice in Aiken

With each event, Johnson said she sees more people and invites even those who don't agree with the movement to take part. 

"You’ve seen on social media the signs that say, ‘I get it now,’ or, ‘I’m sorry I’m late, but I had to learn a few things,'" Johnson said. "That is what we need right now. We need people to open their minds and educate themselves. It’s OK to change your opinion. It’s about humanity. It’s important to keep the momentum going."

Participants in Saturday's ride and rally are asked to meet at Bea's Place, 306 Hampton Ave. N.E., in Aiken at 11 a.m. 

Participants are asked to bring masks as well as sanitizer. 

A similar march protesting racial injustice and inequality will also be held Saturday evening in North Augusta. 

North Augusta City Council approves permit for protest

It is scheduled to begin at the North Augusta Municipal Building on Saturday at 5 p.m where attendees will march their way up Georgia Avenue to Calhoun Park and to the Meriwether Monument.

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