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|Low turnout cancels Savannah March for Equality|
|by Chris Brown|
|September 30, 2011 00:00|
Only 15 people gathered in Johnson Square in downtown Savannah on Saturday afternoon to March For Equality. The turnout for the Sept. 24 march was so disappointing, the event’s organizers, Act Out Savannah, decided not to march at all.
“I am ashamed of my own community here today,” said Cody Patterson, executive director of Act Out Savannah, “because they had a chance to actually make their presence known and let it be known that they are here to fight for full federal equality, and they’re willing to do what it takes, and yet as we can tell they are completely absent.”
Act Out has been a part of several rallies and protests in Savannah since forming last summer, typically seeing much larger crowds turn out to show their support. Last year the group gathered almost 100 to rally in response to an alleged attack on a young gay man by two U.S. Marines.
On Saturday though, marchers sat along walls in Johnson Square, removing their rainbow flag pins, their protest signs tucked under their arms. The frustration in the air was palpable.
“People want to marry, people want their rights,” said Kathleen Osteen, a volunteer for Act Out. “But nobody’s willing to come out and show people and tell people and inform people.”
The march was originally scheduled for Sept. 11, the day after Savannah’s Pride Festival, but the city asked them to move the march “due to conflicts in events and logistics.”
Patterson said that change didn’t give him much time to get the word out, and thinks it certainly contributed to the low turnout, but he doesn’t think it was the only reason.
“Last year there seemed to be a galvanizing force that came together within the GLBT community here,” said Patterson, referring to the 2010 protest against Westboro Baptist Church. “This year we’ve seen the gay community of Savannah turn in on itself and not try and create a cohesive working environment with one another.”
Top photo: A few members of Act Out Savannah mingled at Johnson Square on Sept. 24 before deciding to call off their planned march for LGBT rights. (by Chris Brown)
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