ATLANTA - Pastor Derrick Rice is no stranger to peaceful acts of civil disobedience and said one of the many lessons from the days and nights of unrest in Atlanta and across the country should be clear.
"There's a difference between an uprising and a riot,” said Rev. Rice.
Pastor Rice leads Sankofa United Church of Christ in southwest Atlanta. Over the weekend, he was among man community activists who canceled their planned protests and teamed up with dozens of black men at the Target on Camp Creek Parkway. Their mission--to discourage the young people who responded to a social media invitation to meet at target, loot the store, then burn it down.
"They were going to loot and there were at least 30 to 40 cars of young people who rode by to come and do something. We recognize that these actions can lead to terroristic charges for these young people and that's something that could change the course of their lives forever. I’m convinced some of these demonstrations are organized by outside agitators who don't care about what happens to these young people," Rev. Rice told FOX 5's Portia Bruner.
Pastor Rice said he and other more seasoned activists in Atlanta are now committed to helping young people craft specific goals and outcomes from their own protests. He said they plan to help young demonstrators distinguish between those who are genuinely concerned about social justice and those who with their own destructive agenda.
"We're not saying not to protest. I understand their rage. And this isn't about us protecting Target or other stores. This is about making sure we help them direct their outrage in a way that will change the system and not their lives in a negative way. We have to show them how to be strategic, how to organize in a way that we can gain victory, and tearing up buildings in Atlanta is not the effective way to do that," said Rice.