Several hundred people gathered in front of the Thomaston-Upson County Government Complex last Tuesday evening to protest against Thomaston Police Officer Phillip Tobin and to support calls for Tobin’s termination from the department. Tobin is currently on administrative leave with pay until the conclusion a GBI investigation of an incident on June 11 in which he Tasered Kelsey Rockemore, and an internal investigation of numerous other complaints against the 14-year officer.
A local, newly-formed organization called the Thomaston Improvement Association is calling for the termination of Tobin as a Thomaston police officer. They are requesting a meeting with Thomaston Mayor Hays Arnold and the termination of Tobin within 48 hours of the meeting.
The crowd was bolstered by community activists from Atlanta. State Senator Vincent Fort of Fulton County, Michael Langford, and Derrick Boazman were among the civil rights leaders visiting this area to make speeches and encourage the community to step up and fight against brutality in an excessive nature from one individual of the police department.
“This is not about racism, but this about the whole community and our young children,’ local Pastor Coleman Dumas reminded the people. ‘Let us stay focused on what our purpose is during this cause. Let us not lose sight as we are not condemning anyone until all evidence is completed by the investigated board.
“The Bible says when we come together on one accord, something has to happen,” he added. “We have these men to come down and represent the community with their assistance. It is time for us to stop holding our heads down, but look unto the hills for help and ask how long. When we do what the law said they should not bother us!”
Derrick Boazman, a former Atlanta city councilman and a talk show host on WAOK-AM in Atlanta, said he came because the citizens of Thomaston are ready to stand up for their rights.
“I came to represent the whole community and not just one person or complaint. When I come it is time to show out,” said Boazman. “There is terror in Thomaston by the name of Tobin. How does a man terrorize the community by breaking arms and knocking out eye sockets of people and he goes home and sleeps well. He is not from this community so why let him do this? There are too many complaints against one individual for continued employment with the police department unless he is given permission to commit these acts against the old, young, teenagers, and color is not an issue!”
Michael Langford was also one of the speakers. Langford, an Atlanta attorney, said a threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
“Those of us who love justice and mercy are in the middle of this all. This includes our children as well. To be living in a community that is free and not fear anyone is the purpose of this rally. The men with me today came on my word. To the TIA, each member needs to stay together, because we are not only prepared to talk the talk, but to walk the walk as well together!”
Senator Vincent Fort commented briefly on the situation at hand and assured everyone that he is in contact with the GBI and will contact them accordingly.
“I believe in justice and fairness for all,” Fort said. “If I did not believe in this community and the complaints we would not have shown our face today. But, you do have help and more help coming in the future. Let us continue to work forward to our goal and as each step is completed till we reach the ultimate goal!”
The Thomaston Improvement Association is planning another rally on Tuesday, July 8, 2014 at 6:30 P.M. at Saint Mary AME Church. The address is 605 North Hightower Street, Thomaston, Georgia.
The organization has invited Attorney Albert Mitchell, Attorney Mawuli Mel Davis and other lawyers to hear complaints from citizens and give legal advice about their case. Michael Langford, Senator Vincent Fort, and Derrick Boazman, along with other civil rights organizations, local ministers, and pastors will also be present.
The committee asks that every one spread the word to all citizens, victims of brutality and their family members, blacks, whites, and all who have been harmed by Officer Phillip Tobin. The committee states, “Let us come together Thomaston, with signing petitions on site. If it is not you today, it very well could be tomorrow.”
Another rally on the City Hall steps is scheduled for July 17, 2014 unless members of TIA decide it needs to be done immediately. Other measures are under discussion to get the attention of the city leaders of the seriousness of this matter.