Criminal Defense Attorney in Tybee Island, GA.

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If you are accused of a crime, the only thing standing between your freedom and a verdict of "guilty" is an experienced criminal defense attorney in Tybee Island, GA.

Those who have been arrested before know that life in the legal system is no laughing matter. Aside from the imminent ramifications of fines and jail time, any goals you have of bettering yourself and advancing your life could be compromised. Without a trusted attorney by your side, you could face a lifetime of embarrassment and poor employment prospects due to a tarnished criminal record.

The good news? Dennis O'Brien and his team of experienced lawyers in Tybee Island are ready to clear your name. By retaining the help of a criminal defense attorney early in the legal process, you have a much better chance of securing your freedom and living a life as a productive member of society.

At O'Brien Law Firm PC, our practice was founded to fight for the rights of individuals accused of or charged with a crime. Our team of legal experts is well-equipped to take even the most difficult, contentious cases. From violent felonies to DUI, there is nothing we haven't seen and handled. As a former law enforcement officer, founding attorney Dennis O'Brien knows exactly how much a person can lose if convicted. That's why we work tirelessly to secure a verdict that is favorable for our clients.

Regardless of how serious or minor your case may be, know that we will fight fearlessly on your behalf. You deserve zealous representation - when you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC, you will receive nothing less.

 Drug Lawyer Tybee Island, GA
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The O'Brien Law Firm PC Difference

Many of our clients are surprised to discover that founding lawyer Dennis O'Brien was a police officer prior to his criminal defense career. As a former Field Training Officer for the Memphis Police Department, he has over two decades of knowledge and experience in the criminal justice system. Dennis truly understands the nuance and complexities involved in a criminal defense case. This rare experience gives Dennis a clear edge in any criminal defense case and gives clients priceless peace of mind when they need it the most. Unlike some criminal defense attorneys in Tybee Island, Dennis O'Brien and his team believe that every client deserves effective, empathetic legal assistance. While some Tybee Island criminal defense firms will take weekends off or pass along cases to paralegals, Dennis personally reviews each of his cases. There is no case too small or big for O'Brien Law Firm PC. When you hire our firm, you can rest easy knowing that we will be by your side when the going gets tough.

 Federal Defense Attorney Tybee Island, GA
Here are just a few reasons why O'Brien Law Firm PC is Tybee Island's top choice in criminal defense:
  • Vigorous Representation
  • Fierce Dedication to Clients
  • Unmatched Experience
  • Face-to-Face Counsel
  • Prompt Response to Inquiries and Questions
  • Commitment to Defending Your Rights
  • Thorough, Effective Research and Investigation
  • Contact Us or Call: 912-704-5150
 Criminal Defense Law Firms Tybee Island, GA
Our firm has represented hundreds of criminal defense clients in Tybee Island and is highly qualified to take your case. Some of our specialties include:

Drug Cases in Tybee Island, GA

When you are charged with a drug crime in Tybee Island, it can change your life forever. Georgia imposes very strict punishments for drug offenses. The truth is, it's hard to get your life back on track with a drug charge on your record. Your freedom and way of life could be in the hands of your criminal defense attorney. As such, you need a competent lawyer with years of experience handling drug cases. Leaving your fate in the hands of an incompetent attorney could have long-lasting effects on your family and may result in a conviction.

 Criminal Defense Lawyers Tybee Island, GA

Consequences for drug crimes in Tybee Island often include:

  • Jail
  • Prison
  • Heavy fines
  • Community service
  • Court-ordered drug and alcohol counseling
  • Probation or parole
  • Permanent criminal record

While the consequences for a drug crime in Georgia are serious, there's reason to be hopeful: O'Brien Law Firm PC is here to fight for you. Remember - being charged with a drug crime is NOT the same thing as being convicted.

Our stellar team has represented many clients facing numerous drug-related charges. While each situation varies, one constant remains the same for clients facing drug charges: a fear of what lies ahead. At O'Brien Law Firm PC our job is to help you overcome the fear of the unknown. We do so by ensuring you understand your charges, the possible outcomes associated with those charges, and the options you need to consider from a criminal defense standpoint.

With more than a decade of experience as Tybee Island drug crime attorneys, we have the experience and resources to defend you in court no matter what your charges may be, including:

  • Marijuana
  • Crack
  • Cocaine
  • Heroin
  • Methamphetamine
  • Ecstasy

No matter what charge you are facing, our team has the experience and resources to build a comprehensive defense strategy for your drug case in Tybee Island, GA. Without a criminal defense attorney acting as your advocate, you could be facing very harsh penalties. Here are a few punishments you could be facing for drug crimes in Tybee Island:

  • Schedule I or Schedule II Drug Possession
    Schedule I or Schedule II Drug Possession:

    Having less than a gram (or one milliliter for liquids) of this type of drug results in a prison term of one to three years. Having four grams or milliliter carries a term of one to eight years.

  • Schedule III, IV, or V Drug Possession
    Schedule III, IV, or V Drug Possession:

    Any substance on this list is punishable by a prison sentence of one to three years.

  • Non-Narcotic Schedule II Drug Possession
    Non-Narcotic Schedule II Drug Possession:

    If you have less than two grams or milliliters of this substance, punishments can be between one year and three years. Having up to four grams or milliliters results in a prison sentence of one to eight years.

  • Possession of Marijuana
    Possession of Marijuana:

    Those who are in possession of less than an ounce of marijuana are subject to a jail sentence of up to 12 months. Fines may be no more than $1,000. Possession of more than an ounce of marijuana can result in a prison term of one to 10 years.

To avoid these life-changing punishments, you must take action now. Contact O'Brien Law Firm today for a consultation about your case.

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 Defense Lawyers Tybee Island, GA
 Criminal Defense Attorney Tybee Island, GA

Violent Crime Cases in Tybee Island, GA

Violent crime offenses in Tybee Island typically involve some form of bodily harm to another individual, actions committed against an individual's will, or threatening someone with bodily harm. Aggravated violent offenses are more severe charges and often occur when a violent crime is made more serious due to circumstances like deadly weapons.

Much like serious drug cases, violent crimes create an added layer of negativity that follows the accused for the rest of their life. In these cases, even an accusation is enough to cause irreparable damage to a person's reputation. Those convicted of a violent crime face severe penalties that can include years in a correctional facility.

Common crimes of this nature include but are not limited to:
  • Murder
  • Assault with the intent to murder
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Domestic violence
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Robbery
  • Carjacking

When you are accused of any of the above crimes, your freedom hangs in the balance. The outcome of your case will determine whether you leave the courtroom with your freedom intact or stripped away to serve time behind bars. Because the punishments for violent crimes are so extreme, you should be seeking legal counsel from a criminal defense attorney in Tybee Island, GA, as soon as possible. As a former police officer with a long record of positive verdicts in violent crime cases, Dennis O'Brien is well equipped to represent you in court.

Having a criminal defense lawyer by your side is the best way to avoid the serious punishments associated with violent crimes. These punishments usually result in prison time if convicted and include:
Forced rape: 20 years
Armed robbery: Up to 20 years
Simple assault: Up to 12 months
Aggravated assault: 10 to 20 years
Aggravated battery: Up to 20 years
Involuntary manslaughter: One to 20 years
Vehicular homicide Up to 15 years
Murder: Life in prison or the death sentence
Zealous Representation Without Judgement

As a former police officer, Dennis O'Brien has seen the toll it takes on a person when charged with a crime. His time in law enforcement allows him to empathize with his clients who desperately need competent representation. Despite being innocent until proven guilty, accusations are scary, and conviction could be a reality. That is why you must work with a trustworthy criminal defense lawyer in Tybee Island, GA who will work tirelessly to clear your name.

Clients choose O'Brien Law Firm because we believe in open communication, honesty, and hard work. It is not our job to act as judges for those who have been accused of crimes. Rather, our goal is to find the best defense that allows us to protect our clients' rights and freedoms.

DUI Cases in Tybee Island, GA

Driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common crimes committed in Georgia. Punishments for such a crime can be severe, and for understandable reasons - when a person operates a vehicle while they are intoxicated, they're putting their life and the lives of others at risk.

While DUI is a serious crime that completely upend the accused's life, the earnest desire to end drunk driving can make police officers too eager to catch a person who they believe is under the influence.

 Criminal Defense Law Firm Tybee Island, GA

The city of Tybee Island, Georgia, has implemented severe punishments for DUI, even for first-time offenders. Individuals charged with DUI in Tybee Island could face:

  • Very expensive fines and fees
  • Loss of license
  • Incarceration

Fortunately, if you or someone you love has been charged with DUI, there is hope. This is particularly true when the accused is administered a breath or blood test for DUI. In fact, cases that involve a breath and/or blood test are beaten daily. When you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC, we will dive deep into your DUI case in Tybee Island and examine every angle possible for your case to be dismissed. Here are just a few questions our team will investigate:

  • Was the stop legal? If not, your case could be dismissed
  • Is there enough evidence or probable cause to arrest you? If not, Dennis O'Brien will file a pre-trial motion and will fight hard to have your case dismissed before trial.
  • Did the police read you your implied consent rights? If not, your case could be thrown out. Failure to read implied consent rights to the accused is one of the most common police errors.
  • Were your blood testing records and breathalyzer results maintained? Breath testing comes with inherent weaknesses that can create doubt in a juror's mind.

There are numerous ways to beat a DUI case in Georgia, from unreliable field sobriety tests to inaccurate state-administered breath tests. As a veteran criminal defense lawyer in Tybee Island, GA, Dennis O'Brien has the knowledge and experience to expose the state's mistakes and fight for your rights. When you hire O'Brien Law Firm PC your chances of dismissal are greatly increased. When your case is dismissed, you can continue living life without the burden of a criminal record.

 Criminal Justice Attorney Tybee Island, GA

If you or someone you love is accused of a crime in Tybee Island, GA, don't leave fate up to the prosecution. Take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your family before it's too late.

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Latest News in Tybee Island, GA

10 of the best waterfront restaurants to visit Labor Day weekend in Georgia

Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and take some time to relax, even if it’s just for a special meal. Whether you’re seeking a memorable dining experience along a river, lake or beach, we’ve highlighted 10 excellent waterfront restaurants around Georgia worth checking out.Hop in your car (or boat), and make your way over to one of the restaurants below for an unforgettable meal with unbeatable waterfront views.CanoeLush greenery and calm, soothing sounds...

Labor Day weekend is the perfect time to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and take some time to relax, even if it’s just for a special meal. Whether you’re seeking a memorable dining experience along a river, lake or beach, we’ve highlighted 10 excellent waterfront restaurants around Georgia worth checking out.

Hop in your car (or boat), and make your way over to one of the restaurants below for an unforgettable meal with unbeatable waterfront views.

Canoe

Lush greenery and calm, soothing sounds of the Chattahoochee River are just some of the beautiful gems you’ll find at Canoe nestled in Atlanta’s Vinings neighborhood. Inducted into the Fine Dining Hall of Fame in 2005, for its one-of-a-kind waterfront setting and of course, its exquisite dining experience. Whether you’re planning to visit for brunch, lunch or dinner, you’ll quickly fall in love with this hidden city escape.

Location: Vinings - 4199 Paces Ferry Rd. SE; Website: canoeatl.com; Contact: 770-432-2663

Ray’s on the River

For another fine-dining experience along the Chattahoochee River, Ray’s on the River is a must for some award-winning steak and seafood. Ray’s has been a local staple with breathtaking views since 1984 and offers unbeatable food to pair with it such as the Delmonico Ribeye and Frutti di Mare. With plenty for guests to enjoy here from the scenic atmosphere to the delicious menu, they also have live music Thursdays through Saturdays.

Location: Sandy Springs - 6700 Powers Ferry Rd. NW; Website: raysrestaurants.com; Contact: 770-955-1187

Sunset Grille Lakeside Restaurant (Lake Allatoona)

Known as Lake Allatoona’s #1 restaurant destination, Sunset Grille is a casual spot to visit with friends and family after a day well spent at the lake. Their menu features loaded nachos, classic fish and chips, Nana’s Jerk Chicken and more. On the weekends they play live music that includes a perfect mix of Caribbean tunes and popular hits to keep you movin’ and groovin’.

Location: Woodstock, GA - 1001 Victoria Landing Dr. #1483; Website: sunsetgrillerestaurant.com; Contact: 770-874-0379

Skogie’s Lakefront Restaurant (Lake Lanier)

Homemade crab cakes, gumbo, famous grouper sandwiches and lakeside views? Skogie’s is the place to go for all of that and more located on the Gainesville Marina on Lake Lanier. With both indoor and outdoor seating (pets are welcome), games for kids, live music and all-you-can-eat brunch on Sundays, this is a great place for the whole family. P.S. - They will even deliver takeout to your docked boat on the marina!

Location: Gainesville, GA - 2151 Dawsonville Hwy.; Website: skogieslakefrontrestaurant.us; Contact: 678-450-1310

Fish ‘N Pig (Lake Tobesofkee)

If you’re spending the weekend in Macon and want some waterfront dining in the middle of Georgia, well Fish ‘N Pig at Lake Tobesofkee is just the spot. Fish ‘N Pig features an indoor dining room, full bar and a large patio deck seating overlooking the lake. Fresh seafood and hickory-smoked barbecue are some of their specialties as well as their Gator Bites if you want to try a unique appetizer. Check out their schedule for upcoming live music events.

Location: Macon, GA - 6420 Moseley Dixon Rd.; Website: fishnpig.com; Contact: 478-476-8837

Pelican Pete’s Tiki Bar and Grill (Lake Lanier)

Located at the Port Royale Marina in Lake Lanier, Pelican Pete’s is the area’s only floating tiki bar and restaurant. Being right on the water makes Pelican Pete’s a top destination with their tasty island drinks, tropical menu, water play place for kids and dock parking. Be sure to check out their calendar for upcoming live music events.

Location: Gainesville - 8800 Port Royale Dr.; Website: pelicanpetes.com; Contact: 770-887-5715 ext. 5

Fish Tales Lakeside Grille (Lake Lanier)

You’ll find Fish Tales over in Hideaway Bay Marina on Lake Lanier for waterside views, delicious seafood and refreshing cocktails. Make sure to try their famous Fish Tales appetizer (fried grouper fingers with homemade dill tartar sauce) and the Jerked Grouper with their spicy boom boom sauce for that extra kick. Take a look at their calendar to see who will be taking the stage next for some live tunes.

Location: Flowery Branch, GA - 6330 Mitchell St.; Website: fishtaleslakelanier.com; Contact: 770-967-3775

LandShark Bar and Grill (Lake Lanier)

If you’re planning on spending the weekend in Margaritaville (at Lake Lanier), LandShark Bar & Grill is a great spot for dining. Guests of all ages are sure to enjoy this lakefront paradise with classic dishes that include burgers, wings, seafood and shareable appetizers. Don’t forget about the signature cocktails like 5 O’Clock Somewhere, Pink Cadillac, Tranquil Waters and many more. Sit back, relax and watch the boats go by with a drink in hand while chillin’ in paradise.

Location: Buford, GA - 7541 Lanier Islands Pkwy.; Website: landsharkbarandgrill.com; Contact: 470-323-3473

Huey’s (Savannah, GA)

For those making a weekend trip to coastal Georgia, Huey’s in Savannah is a New Orleans-style restaurant with riverfront views that is worth a visit. Located in an old 1817 cotton warehouse, Huey’s opened back in 1987 and has been a river-side staple since. The restaurant serves up classic New Orleans cuisine with Crawfish Etouffee, Pasta Jambalaya, Oysters Norman, Shrimp Poboys and delectable Beignets.

Location: Savannah, GA - 115 E River St.; Website: hueysontheriver.net; Contact: 912-234-7385

The Deck Beach Bar and Kitchen (Tybee Island, GA)

Just a short drive from Savannah, we’ve made sure to include a beachside restaurant for those visiting the beautiful Tybee Island. The Deck Beach Bar and Kitchen is literally just steps away from the ocean and features a unique menu with a focus on cuisines from Australia, coastal Mexico and Hawaii. Whether you’re in the mood for street tacos or fish and chips, there’s an excellent variety of different foods and a fun selection of frozen drinks.

Location: Tybee Island, GA - 404 Butler Ave.; Website: thedecktybee.com; Contact: 912-328-5397

Tourist season coming to an end on Tybee Island

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - This weekend marks the unofficial end to summer and that means that Tybee Island will be slowing down for the year.They broke records last year but they didn’t get to those numbers this year. The city says that Tybee is a driving destination and that with more people choosing to fly for a vacation this year, that did impact them.However, they still say the season was a success and they were busy.The biggest impact this summer was jellyfish. They treated more than 4,000 jellyfish stings....

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - This weekend marks the unofficial end to summer and that means that Tybee Island will be slowing down for the year.

They broke records last year but they didn’t get to those numbers this year. The city says that Tybee is a driving destination and that with more people choosing to fly for a vacation this year, that did impact them.

However, they still say the season was a success and they were busy.

The biggest impact this summer was jellyfish. They treated more than 4,000 jellyfish stings.

Even with a lot of people, code enforcement, police and lifeguards say it seemed more calm than the past few years.

“We luckily have had a very quiet summer in terms of misbehavior and violation of the rules so we are pretty happy that is was a quiet summer…of course we had also implemented our no smoking and vaping on the beach rule and didn’t end up writing a whole lot of tickets for that fortunately people seemed to be complying,” said Tybee Asst. City Manager Michelle Owens.

But there is still one more big weekend. They will see anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 people on the island the next few days.

And the return of the Labor Day Beach Bash on the island this weekend.

The two-day beach bash starts up Saturday.

There will be free entertainment on Tybee’s Pier and Pavilion starting at noon on Saturday with a DJ and band in the evening.

Then on Sunday, the Swingin’ Medallions will perform at 7:30 p.m. and a fireworks show will follow once it gets dark.

It has been two years since the Beach Bash hosted fireworks on the island and both locals and visitors are excited to see it’s return.

.”It truly marks the end of summer season at least for family fun and travel and things like that so again if mother nature cooperates it should be a busy weekend and certainly a busy day,” said Visit Savannah & Tybee President Joe Marinelli.

Organizers will be keeping a close eye on the weather, if the fireworks show does not happen on Sunday, it will just be cancelled and not rescheduled.

If you plan to come out, especially on Sunday for the fireworks, get here early. City officials say usually on the day of an event parking will fill up about 9:30 in the morning.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.

5 years of litter prevention effort at Tybee Island

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Communities up and down Georgia’s coast work every day to keep their beaches clean.On Tybee Island, they’re celebrating five years of being part of a cigarette litter prevention program that they say has had huge success.“When you see that message, ‘Georgia’s Coast is not an Ashtray’, it does connect in a lot of peoples’ minds that ‘oh, this does end up in the water most of the time.’”This message is under the umbrella of the Cigarette...

TYBEE ISLAND, Ga. (WTOC) - Communities up and down Georgia’s coast work every day to keep their beaches clean.

On Tybee Island, they’re celebrating five years of being part of a cigarette litter prevention program that they say has had huge success.

“When you see that message, ‘Georgia’s Coast is not an Ashtray’, it does connect in a lot of peoples’ minds that ‘oh, this does end up in the water most of the time.’”

This message is under the umbrella of the Cigarette Litter Prevention program that Tybee has been a part of for the last five years.

“We’ve been having these ashcans around, we’ve been giving out coasters, we’ve been having people with t-shirts,” Beach Task Force volunteer Kate Burns said.

Volunteers with the program, like Burns, have worked hard to raise awareness about the harmful effects of the nation’s number one most littered item- cigarette butts.

“I think we have 6,000 coasters to give out and we’re going to do that this afternoon,” Burns said.

The awareness involves putting the message out in front of people. Burns says giving coasters to the local restaurants, for example, has had a big impact on how people treat the island’s environment.

“I believe that our efforts have brought this island here to stop smoking,” Burns said.

Burns says so far, this is the program’s biggest success story. A beach-wide smoking ban that the city put into effect in June.

“We have a baseline of how many butts volunteers remove and this year it’s down 75 percent on average,” Tim Arnold said.

Arnold spearheads the beach cleanups and says litter prevention programs are the only way they’ll ever get the amount of litter they pick up down to zero.

“A lot of people are here on vacation, they’re enjoying themselves and they forget that little acts like dropping a cigarette butt or straw, collectively with 30,000 people on the beach, makes a huge difference,” Arnold said.

Vacationer, Susan Styre says she’s been coming to Tybee for 20 years. This year, she says she noticed a big difference.

“No cigarette butts. Very clean. Not even trash. It’s very, very clean. Much cleaner than it has been in years past,” Styre said.

The program is funded by the Keep America Beautiful grant and Burns says Tybee has gotten about $25,000 from it. To celebrate the last five years, there will be a community-wide clean up Saturday at Memorial Park. It’ll be from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Everyone is welcome to join.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.

‘We take everything out:’ Volunteers taking inventory of Tybee Island sea turtle nests

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Sea turtle nesting season is winding down on Tybee Island.But volunteers are still at work as the eggs inside the nests begin to hatch.Students at Tybee Island Maritime Academy got out of the classroom and hit the beach for their science lesson.The students watched as their teacher and volunteers took inventory of a recently hatched sea turtle nest.Volunteers from the Sea Turtle Project say they keep a close eye on any nests that hatch on Tybee’s shore.“So we come back 5 d...

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Sea turtle nesting season is winding down on Tybee Island.

But volunteers are still at work as the eggs inside the nests begin to hatch.

Students at Tybee Island Maritime Academy got out of the classroom and hit the beach for their science lesson.

The students watched as their teacher and volunteers took inventory of a recently hatched sea turtle nest.

Volunteers from the Sea Turtle Project say they keep a close eye on any nests that hatch on Tybee’s shore.

“So we come back 5 days later and we dig it up and we take everything out. We count how many hatched eggs there were, how many unhatched, whether we have live babies or dead babies,” Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project Volunteer Linda Stoller said.

The group works by hand removing the protective grate.

They then pull out what’s left inside the nest carefully counting and recording the number of hatched and unhatched eggs.

“We’re going to look for what we consider 50% of an eggshell.”

It’s an important tracking process say volunteers.

One that helps track turtle genealogy and monitor the overall health of Tybee’s ecosystem.

“We’ve been doing this for quite a long time. We know through DNA that we have a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter coming back to Tybee to lay their nest which is kind of cool,” Volunteer Cathy Lewis said.

For this nest the group found 71 hatched eggs and 6 unhatched.

No babies were left behind. A success say volunteers.

And for the students looking on a chance to inspire the next generation of turtle watchers.

“That’s amazing. They’re our future people that are going to be taking care of the turtles. It’s just terrific that they can see that. It’s a wonderful thing for them to be able to watch. It’s just an exciting time and it never gets old,” Stoller said.

Now once they count all the hatched and unhatched eggs volunteers put the remains back in the nest and cover it up again.

They say it’s healthy for the nearby dunes.

The inventory counts come at the end of a recording breaking nesting season on Tybee.

And volunteers say the still have a few more nests left to check.

Copyright 2022 WTOC. All rights reserved.

From ‘whites only’ to Georgia's largest public beach: New marker honors ‘Wade-Ins’ on Tybee Island

Beach-goers on coastal Georgia's Tybee Island may notice something new. But it took years to get there — 62 years, to be exact.“This is part of the civil rights trail,” said Georgia State Rep. Edna Jackson, speaking in front of a large group of people assembled at the beach. “For we shall never forget what happened here on the seashores of Tybee Island.”Today, Tybee is home to Georgia's largest public beach, drawing in people from all walks of life. But back in the early 1960s, it was called Savann...

Beach-goers on coastal Georgia's Tybee Island may notice something new. But it took years to get there — 62 years, to be exact.

“This is part of the civil rights trail,” said Georgia State Rep. Edna Jackson, speaking in front of a large group of people assembled at the beach. “For we shall never forget what happened here on the seashores of Tybee Island.”

Today, Tybee is home to Georgia's largest public beach, drawing in people from all walks of life. But back in the early 1960s, it was called Savannah Beach. And it wasn't really a public beach: It was “whites only.”

That didn't sit well with Jackson. So, she took a stand — or, rather, a swim.

“We did it because it was the right thing to do,” Jackson recalled, referring to what came to be known as the Savannah Beach Wade-Ins: From 1960 to 1963, hundreds of young African Americans braved the whites-only waters, in an act of resistance against segregationist Jim Crow laws.

Many were arrested, starting with the 11 students who participated in the inaugural wade-in on Aug. 17, 1960. Sixty-two years later to the day, the Georgia Historical Society unveiled a new historical marker at the base of the Tybee beach pier, meant to commemorate the waders.

Among them was Evalena Hoskins, who was on hand to witness the marker's unveiling.

“Just to think that we're around long enough to see it and everything that we came out here for has taken place,” said Hoskins, 78, when asked what the marker — paid for by an anonymous donor — means to her.

Desegregation, of course, didn't happen overnight: According to the Georgia Historical Society, Savannah Beach and Tybee Island's other public places were integrated by October 1963, with the last wade-in occurring in July 1963.

For Hoskins, Jackson, and their fellow student activists, that meant three years of resistance — three years of wading in, putting their safety on the line and swimming against the tide of Jim Crow so that one day, all might be able to swim safely.

“Anyone can come out here and enjoy themselves and be a part of Tybee or whatever they like to do,” Hoskins said.

Mary Gray was also at the marker's unveiling. Although she didn't participate in the wade-ins, Gray was a part of other acts of occupational resistance in the Savannah area. That included a kneel-in at a whites-only hotel, for which she spent three days in jail.

“We were put in a little, small cell — maybe about the size of your bathroom,” Gray recalled. “And it was about 10 of us in that cell. And it was so hot that they later transferred us [to] the county jail in a big room. We were sleeping on a mat on the floor.”

Gray was just 19 years old at the time.

“And when they let us out [after] those three days, we were let out at night for us to have no other transportation," she said. "We didn't have no cellphone back then in those days. So, we had to walk home at night when they let us out of jail. But then things have changed. Thank God for it.”

These acts of resistance — which collectively came to be known as the Savannah Movement — were organized by students in the Savannah branch of the NAACP under the leadership of W.W. Law. The organization's current president, Chadrick Mance, spoke at the unveiling.

“Those students could see through the generations to where we are now and where we will be,” Mance said. “When they took a step in those unknown waters, they weren't stepping for themselves. They were stepping for freedom, for justice, for equality, for prosperity and for patriotism.”

The students' activism did not go unnoticed by Martin Luther King Jr.: According to the Georgia Historical Society, in 1964 King declared Savannah to be the most desegregated city south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

“Those students, in an ironic way, were not really students,” Mance said. “They were teachers. They proved that ordinary people — driven by something bigger than themselves — could do extraordinary things.”

Benjamin is the Savannah-based reporter for GPB, where he covers Coastal Georgia.

Prior to coming to Savannah, he freelanced in Bellingham, Washington, for public media outlets including NPR, Marketplace, and PRX. Previously, Benjamin hosted Morning Edition for WVIK, his hometown NPR member station in Rock Island, Illinois. Before that, he served a news internship with NPR member station WBEZ in Chicago.

Benjamin is a graduate of the University of Nevada-Reno's journalism master's program, and earned his undergraduate degree in journalism from Augustana College in Rock Island.

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