Washington, D.C. hosted the most high-profile and traditional of Saturday’s protests against racial bias in the legal system. The march and rally was organized by National Action Network, Black Women’s Round Table, NAACP and National Urban League. It was attended by the families of Black men and boys slain by police, including those of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Amadou Diallo, Tamir Rice, Akai Gurley, Ramarley Graham and others. The parents of Trayvon Martin, movie director Spike Lee and activist/comedian Dick Gregory also participated. Estimates place the attendance at between 10,000 and 25,000 people.
NewsOne was there to capture the moment, which can be seen in the video above (interviews and speech excerpts start at the 1:30 mark).
The gathering provided the chance to hear from those affected most personally by the slayings. Esaw Garner, wife of Eric Garner, told us the sunshine on that cold day was a good sign. Her late husband would have been “very, very happy,” she said.
John Crawford Jr., father of John H. Crawford, III told the crowd his son, who was shot by police in a Walmart while holding an air rifle from the shelves, “wasn’t killed on the street. He was killed in the biggest retailer in the world (Walmart) and we didn’t even get one condolence.”
Kadiatou Diallo, mother of Amadou Diallo, who was shot 41 times outside of his home while unarmed, told protesters that 16 years after four white police officers were acquitted of killing her son, “We’re standing still and demanding the same thing.”
Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer while carrying only Skittles and ice tea, told those gathered, “It hurts me to my heart to know that so many men are getting away with shooting and killing our young people and not being held accountable for it.”
“We got to make sure we talking to other folks so they understand what we’re going through, ‘cause some people don’t quite get it.” Fulton added, “I don’t have to tell one of these mothers here what they are going through, because they know. I don’t have to tell one single African American about racial profiling because you guys know.”
She challenged everyone in attendance to “talk to somebody that does not know. Talk to somebody and make somebody else knowledgeable, make somebody else aware and educate somebody else about you are going through. Because as long as we are just talking to ourselves we going to stay in our same circles.”
“We’ve got to step out of that circle,” said Fulton.
Rev. Al Sharpton in a rousing address, called for Congress and the United States government to bring forth “national legislation and intervention to save us from state grand juries that say it’s all right to choke people –even on tape — and you won’t bring ‘em to court.”
Sharpton also called out critics of the movement for social justice, quoting a slogan his youngest daughter gave him, saying, “You may bury us, but you didn’t know you were burying seeds.”
“When you bury us, we sprout up and start blocking traffic. Our seeds grow into civil disobiedence. Our seeds grow into nonviolence.
“Bury us if you want, but we’ll grow stronger,” proclaimed Sharpton.