by Robin Kemp
The NAACP Clayton County Youth Council will hold a silent march to demand justice for Kenneth Herring, the Riverdale man who was shot dead by Hannah Palmer after a traffic incident last year.
The march takes place Saturday, Sept. 5, with mandatory registration from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Kwame Abernathy, the son of the late Dr. Ralph Abernathy, will be the featured speaker and a violin prayer vigil will be offered. Other speakers include NAACP Clayton County Youth Council President Alana Pittman, NAACP Clayton County Social Media Chair Jeremy Sistrunk, NAACP Clayton County Political Action Chair Ademala Gbadeham, and Lovejoy High School Black Education teacher Dr. Michael Seaberry.
NAACP Clayton County Chapter President Cheryl Synamon Baldwin credited Pittman, a junior at Lovejoy High School, with putting together the march.
“She actually participated in a peaceful march in Fayette County, and she was so impressed,” Baldwin said. “She said how beautiful it was and, you know, how the people of the generations, the racial mix, it was beautiful to have.”
Baldwin said Pittman expressed concern about two issues: the incident in which a Clayton County Police officer detained several middle schoolers at gunpoint, and the fact that Payne has not yet gone to trial for Herring’s May 7, 2019 shooting. Police say Herring had been involved in a minor traffic accident and may have been trying to drive himself to the hospital during a medical incident. They allege that Payne attempted a citizen’s arrest by cutting off Herring in traffic, drawing a pistol on him, ordering him out of the car, despite a 911 operator’s instructions not to follow him.
Payne’s attorney, Matt Tucker, has said that a struggle ensued over the gun and Herring was fatally shot in the chest. In court documents, he portrayed Payne as an all-American girl next door who had acted in self-defense and “learned a very valuable lesson.”
The Clayton Crescent tried to reach Tucker for comment on the march and his client’s case but was unable to reach him after business hours Friday.
Payne, whose case has been repeatedly continued, and who has been granted bond twice, is charged with two counts of felony murder, one count of malice murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and three counts of possession of a weapon during a crime.
Payne remains free on bond as of press time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, jury trials were suspended for some time
According to Baldwin, Pittman then asked local law enforcement leaders whether they would protect Clayton County’s youth “from infiltrators and those who would seek to cause chaos” if the group held a peaceful march: “‘If we, the students, the young people in Clayton County march, will you protect us?’ They all resoundingly said ‘Yes.’ So knowing that she would be protected, she began to formulate the march.”
Baldwin said she expects about 100 marchers. To keep “bad actors” from blending in, Baldwin explained, everyone who wants to take part must register in advance and wear an NAACP face mask. Marchers must show up at 5 p.m. to present a driver’s license and other identifying information. Each participant will get an NAACP backpack containing an NAACP mask, bottled water, and written marching orders.
The silent march will feature music by award-winning violinist Evonee Mitchell, along with voter registration and 2020 Census counting on site.
To register, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Georgia v. Payne Timeline
- May 7, 2019: Kenneth Herring is shot in an alleged struggle with Hannah Payne over her pistol as she attempted a citizen’s arrest for a minor traffic accident to which she had not been a party.
- May 31, 2019: Payne is freed on $100,000 bond and ordered to wear an ankle monitor.
- June 20, 2019: Judge Shana Rooks Malone issues a true bill bench warrant charging Payne with two counts of felony murder, one count of malice murder, one count of aggravated assault, one count of false imprisonment, and three counts of possession of a weapon during a crime.
- July 12, 2019: Payne enters a plea of not guilty.
- July 31, 2019: Payne faces arraignment on the new charges.
- Aug. 1, 2019: The court receives an emergency motion to reconsider bond.
- Aug, 6, 2019: District Attorney Tracy Graham Lawson retires; Fowler serves as interim district attorney.
- Aug. 7, 2019: The court denies the motion to reconsider Payne’s bond.
- Sept. 3, 2019: Jury trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. A motion to reconsider is denied.
- Oct. 10, 2019: Gov. Brian Kemp appoints Clayton County Solicitor General Tasha Mosley as district attorney.
- Oct. 14, 2019: Jury trial is scheduled for 9 a.m.
- Oct. 17, 2019: The case is continued, apparently due to an attorney’s leave of absence filed Oct. 15 for Oct. 23-25.
- Nov. 4, 2019: Jury trial is scheduled for 9 a.m.
- Nov. 14, 2019: The state files a certificate of discovery.
- Nov. 20: A motion is made to continue the trial until February 2020.
- Dec. 9, 2019: Jury trial scheduled to take place is delayed to Feb. 11, 2020, because Georgia Bureau of Investigation Associate Medical examiner Dr. Stacey Desamours is out on medical leave and is a material state’s witness. Clayton County Assistant District Attorney John Fowler says he expects the case to go to trial, rather than a guilty plea: “It’s just one of those cases where the defendant thinks that she did absolutely nothing wrong.”
- Feb. 11, 2020: Fowler says the case is delayed until March 9, but that he was not at liberty to say why.
- March 9, 2020: Trial had been set for this date but did not appear on court calendar.
- March 14, 2020: Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia Harold Melton declares a statewide judicial emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic, suspending and tolling deadlines for jury trial proceedings, including speedy trial demands; deadlines for grand jury proceedings; and deadlines calculated by reference to the date of a civil or criminal jury trial or grand jury proceedings.
- Feb.-May 2020: Witnesses, discovery, and evidence added to case.
- May 12, 2020: Motion filed to examine jurors in panels.
- June 2, 2020: Motion filed to modify Payne’s bond conditions.
- July 16, 2020: Fowler is appointed to the Georgia Department of Law’s Prosecution Division.
- July 23, 2020: Motion to modify Payne’s bond conditions denied.
- Sept. 10, 2020: Expiration date for extended judicial emergency order, which may or may not be renewed by Chief Justice Melton.