الأحد , مايو 16 2021

Civil rights protest in US capital



Protesters gather on Freedom Plaza for the march through Washington DC, 13 December

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Community leader Martin Baez: “We came here to fight for equal justice”

Thousands of civil rights protesters are marching through Washington DC, to bring attention to the recent killings of unarmed black people by police.

Relatives of Michael Brown, shot dead in the Missouri town of Ferguson, and Eric Garner, who died being restrained in New York, are due to attend.

Grand jury decisions not to charge police over either death generated waves of unrest across America.

A demonstration in New York is also due to draw thousands.

Organisers arranged buses to take demonstrators to the capital, where they are due to march down Pennsylvania Avenue between the White House and the Capitol.



 Alistair Leithead with a member of the LAPD

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Speakers at the Capitol are expected to call for legislative action.

“We need more than just talk,” the Rev Al Sharpton, a leading civil rights advocate, said in a statement. “We need legislative action that will shift things both on the books and in the streets.”

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, America’s oldest civil rights group, is involved in the protest, called the Justice For All March, along with the National Action Network and the Urban League.

Bereaved families

Michael Brown, 18, was shot dead on 9 August during an altercation with a white police officer in Ferguson.

Mr Garner, 43, died while being held down by a white police officer on 17 July after being challenged over the alleged sale of loose cigarettes on a street in the Staten Island borough of New York.

Undated photos of Michael Brown (left) and Eric Garner

The event was caught on camera and his dying plea of “I can’t breathe” has become a slogan of the protesters – as has the chant “Hands up!”, relating to a claim that Mr Brown was surrendering when the fatal shots were fired.

Relatives of three other black people killed in controversial shootings are also expected to attend the march, according to the National Action Network.

  • Akai Gurley, 28, was shot dead by New York police on 20 November
  • Tamir Rice, 12 years old, was shot dead in a Cleveland, Ohio, park on 22 November while carrying a pellet gun
  • Trayvon Martin, 17, was shot dead on 26 February 2012 by a neighbourhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida

‘Racist killings’

Addressing the crowd in Washington before the march started, the Rev Charles E Williams of the National Action Network in Detroit said protesters had come with the same message that had echoed across the US.

“That message is that all life matters,” he said to cheers. “Black life matters. Brown life matters. Yellow life matters. White life matters. And until the federal government does something about it we’re gonna march, we’re gonna protest, we’re gonna lie down, we’re gonna sit down, we’re gonna stand in the way until we get justice.”

New York march co-organiser Umaara Elliott said in a statement that it was “open season on black people”.

A protester in Washington DC, 13 December“Heaven is crying out for justice”: Placard held by a protester in Washington DC

Protesters on a bus leaving New York for Washington DC, 13 DecemberBuses were arranged to ferry protesters from New York and other cities

Protesters in Washington DC, 13 December“This stops today”: Another slogan of the protest movement

A protester in Washington DC, 13 DecemberThe march in Washington DC is the culmination of weeks of unrest

“So we demand that action be taken at every level of government to ensure that these racist killings by the police cease,” she added.

The decision not to prosecute a policeman over Michael Brown’s death sparked riots in Ferguson and as far away as Oakland, California.

However, most of the protests over his and Mr Garner’s death have been peaceful and dignified.

Baltimore resident Terry Baisden, 52, told the Associated Press news agency in Washington she was “hopeful change is coming”.

She had not protested before, she said, but felt compelled to turn out because “changes in action, changes in belief, happen in numbers”.

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