To cap off a week of protests and outrage over the police shooting of an African-American man in Wisconsin, Civil rights defenders this Friday commemorated a new anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and FreedomThousands of people flocked to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech, a vision of racial equality that remains elusive to millions of Americans.
What happened last Sunday with Jacob Blake, 29, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting sparked days of protests and violence that left two dead.
“We have to create a different consciousness and a different climate in our nation”said Martin Luther King III, son of the late civil rights icon and co-convenor of the march prior to the march.
In the Mall of the American capital, in front of the Lincoln Monument, where thousands of people have gathered, with T-shirts and posters, many of which said “Black Lives Matter” (black lives matter), the activist pointed out that if society chooses “community” fifty years from now, it could redeem “the soul of the United States and begin to fulfill the promise of democracy by eliminating systematic racism and exploitation.”
Also, Luther King III encouraged those present to go to the polls on November 3, when presidential elections are held in the country: “We must go to the polls, to the mailboxes (in reference to voting by mail) to defend the freedoms that previous generations fought so hard to achieve in many ways.”
In that sense, he mentioned the obstacles to being able to pay by mail: “We are fighting with the dismantling of the US Postal Service to express the purpose of suppressing our vote with all the threats to our lives and freedoms”, The activist indicated, referring to Trump’s attacks on voting by mail, which will be fundamental in the next elections due to the pandemic.
The activist stressed that this Friday they were marching with “the largest and most active movement for civil rights, the most multigenerational and multiracial, since the 1960s.”
He and the Rev. Al Sharpton, whose civil rights organization, the National Action Network, planned this Friday’s event, said that The objective of the march was to show the urgency of introducing reforms on the functioning of the Police, in addition to denouncing racial violence and demanding the protection of the right to vote before the general elections in November.
To underline the urgency, Sharpton has brought together the families of a growing list of victims: George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner and Blake, among others. Following the commemorative event, which will include a speech by civil rights attorney Ben Crump, who represents several of the victims’ families, participants will march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park, next to the National Mall , and then they will disperse.
Turnout in Washington was massive, though perhaps less than anticipated due to coronavirus pandemic restrictions imposed by the city, which limit the entry of visitors from outside the district to the nation’s capital. Additionally, the National Action Network hosted a handful of satellite events in South Carolina, Florida, and Nevada, among others.
Sharpton has appealed to out-of-state residents to march to the offices of their U.S. senators and demand their support for police reforms.. Sharpton said protesters should also demand that the protection of American voters be revitalized, in memory of the late Congressman John Lewis who, until his death on July 17, was the last living speaker from the original march.
In June, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives sanctioned the George Floyd Police Justice Act, which would prohibit the use of strangulation maneuvers by the police and would end qualified immunity for officers, among other reforms. Floyd died on May 25 after a white police officer in Minneapolis held one of his knees against his neck for nearly eight minutes, sparking weeks of sustained protests and riots from coast to coast.
In July, after Lewis’s death, Democratic senators resubmitted legislation that would reinstate a provision of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965 gutted by the United States Supreme Court in 2013. The law previously required states with a history of voter suppression to seek federal clearance before changing voting rules.
Both measures are awaiting action in the Republican-controlled Senate. “We are demanding that it be enacted,” King said. “Senators won’t even take action on it. That gives us the opportunity to say, ‘OK, we gave them a chance, we as a people, as African Americans, as whites, as Latinos and Hispanics, and we are going to expel them.’
With AP information
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