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Community leaders protest at Augusta County Courthouse following officer-involved shootings

People gather outside the Augusta County Courthouse to peacefully protest.
People gather outside the Augusta County Courthouse to peacefully protest.(WHSV)
Published: May. 26, 2021 at 8:58 PM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - Members of the community gathered at the Augusta County Courthouse Wednesday evening to speak out against injustices and racism.

“It’s happening here in my own backyard in different ways, it is still happening. Nobody is speaking up, no one is standing up for anybody, it’s just being swept under the rug. There is no one here organizing doing none of this,” Antwhon Suiter explained.

Suiter is from Waynesboro and is a senior cast member of a social justice docuseries called The System.

He organized this protest with hopes of showing the community their voice does matter and that there’s power in numbers.

Antwhon Suiter is one of the organizers of the protest.
Antwhon Suiter is one of the organizers of the protest.(WHSV)

“I hope they learn from it and people can come together, we all can come together and change what’s going on and what’s wrong in this county,” Suiter added.

Suiter, along with other community leaders and activists, peacefully protested following several officer-involved shootings from the Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, one of which resulted in the death of Jeffrey Bruce.

But those at the protest say this isn’t the first incident that has raised concerns for community members.

Many spoke out Wednesday about their own experiences of injustice before everyone marched the streets of downtown Staunton with signs and chanting things like, “No Justice. No Peace. No Racist Police.”

The ACSO has called in the Virginia State Police to continue to investigate the incidents but some organizations have called for federal investigations.

Protesters also called for more transparency from the Sheriff’s Office by getting body cams.

Sheriff Donald Smith previously stated in Facebook post that this was something that the sheriff’s office started exploring in 2017 and again this year, but costs have remained a huge factor and the funding hasn’t been approved by the Augusta County Board of Supervisors.

Some of the protestors went to the county’s board meeting after leaving the courthouse to bring up the issue, and they plan to protest daily until a federal investigation is requested or takes place.

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