Columbus Mayor Tomlinson speaks out after arrests, criticism from weekend protest

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson weighs in on weekend protests

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is responding after two well-known local activists were arrested this weekend at a protest in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Officials say NAACP Columbus chapter president Tonza Thomas and community activist Marquese "Skinny" Averett led the crowd into the intersection of Veterans Parkway and 10th Street blocking oncoming traffic.

Both Thomas and Averett were arrested and later released.

The pair criticized the mayor following their arrest, with Thomas defending her right to publicly raise awareness to an issue.

Tomlinson responded to the criticism Monday evening on News Leader 9 at 5:30.

"I've marched with Thomas and I've marched with Marquese and they both know that, so a lot of this is silly business and they need to be more serious about this very serious subject," Tomlinson said. "Tonza knows how to hold peaceful, lawful demonstrations and so does Marquese and this incident was unfortunately irresponsible. They may have had a great objective in a very difficult and trying time but our job is to maintain civic order, particularly in a trying time."

The mayor says she is a strong believer in the right to demonstrate but says public safety is a key concern.

Tomlinson says any protest or demonstration that involves more than 16 people must be permitted so the proper traffic and safety measures can be put in place.

Copyright WTVM 2016. All rights reserved.