ATLANTA – Hundreds gathered on the front steps of Georgia State Capitol Wednesday to lobby Governor Nathan Deal for a further investigation of the Kendrick Johnson case.
The rally, spearheaded by Johnson’s family, attracted politicians, civil rights activists and religious leaders alike.
Speakers included Martin Luther King III, theGrio’s Goldie Taylor, BET’s Jeff Johnson, family attorney Ben Crump, Georgia State Sen. Vincent Fort and Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
Flanked by his attorneys and standing alongside his wife Jacqueline, Kenneth Johnson said he is still looking for answers following the untimely death of his 17-year-old son who was discovered dead in January in a rolled up wrestling mat at Lowndes High School in Valdosta.
“How in the world can a student go missing during school and be murdered at school?” Kenneth Johnson asked the crowd. “His vital organs were missing. From the top of his head to his liver was missing.”
“His brain, his windpipes, his tongue, his heart and everything else inside of his body was missing. So I want the justice system to tell me how is all of that going on…It can’t be,” he added.
The initial investigation determined that the teen suffocated while trying to retrieve a shoe from the mat. Johnson’s parents have said from the very beginning this is an absurd explanation and a second autopsy, ordered by the family, found Johnson had a blow to the neck.
In second autopsy it was also discovered that internal organs were removed and parts of his body stuffed with newspapers. At the time family attorney Chevene King said he believed this might be a cover up to get rid of evidence.
“We held this rally as way of bringing more attention to the case,” Mr. King told theGrio. “We want to alert the governor that he has the power to help solve this mystery, the ability to step in, when he feels there is a need.”
The rally took place a day after the parents filed a complaint with the state about the handling of their son’s body. The complaint, filed Tuesday with the Georgia Board of Funeral Service alleges when Johnson’s body was exhumed for the second autopsy, “all of our son’s inner organs, including his brain, were missing.”
Harrington Funeral Home, which embalmed Kendrick Johnson and handled the funeral arrangement, never informed the family the organs were missing, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation said it replaced all of the organs after the autopsy, the complaint alleges.
Organizers of today’s rally, dubbed “Who killed K.J.?” urged supporters to sign up for a major march scheduled for January 11, on the anniversary that Johnson’s body was discovered, in Valdosta.
Michael Moore, the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, said in October that federal authorities would investigate the circumstances behind Kendrick Johnson’s death.
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