MLK honored amid scattered protests over recent black deaths

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

King’s legacy honored amid scattered protests over recent police deaths of unarmed black men.

ATLANTA (AP) — The daughter of the slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. exhorted the nation on King’s federal holiday to act out against injustice but to heed her father’s message of nonviolence. In Atlanta, about 200 young demonstrators sat down in the middle of Peachtree Street, not far from the annual Martin Luther King’s Birthday commemoration at Ebenezer Baptist Church, and briefly stopped the parade. The peaceful protesters wound through Beacon Hill shouting “black lives matter” and carrying signs saying “jail killer cops” and “the new Jim Crow must go.” Dozens of Boston police officers accompanied the march; a spokesman said police made no arrests.

In New York, there was a “die-in” outside Bloomingdale’s, in the heart of an upscale shopping area, while in Boston, similar “die-ins” took place on streets between Boston Common and the Public Garden and then in front of the Statehouse. The gatherings ranged from relatively small – Reuters estimated 40 in Oakland, California – to record breaking, in Colorado, where the Denver Post estimated 30,000 people turned out. More than 60 people demonstrating against police brutality were arrested after blocking traffic on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, a major thoroughfare in the San Francisco Bay Area, said California Highway Patrol Officer Damian Cistaro.

Marchers called for restraint by police in using deadly force and fairness in the justice system to hold police — and others — accountable for the deaths. King’s birthday on Monday was punctuated by protest, as a new generation of activists, angered by the deaths of several unarmed African-Americans in confrontations with the police, demanded that the traditional holiday rituals of speechmaking, community service and prayer breakfasts give way to denunciations of injustice and inequality. “The events that have happened have kind of diminished his dream a little bit,” said Aleah Hutchinson, 17, who attended a King event in Athens, Ala., and won a local essay contest connected to the holiday. “He wanted us all to work together in unity, but when certain events occur, like the events in Ferguson and the Trayvon Martin case, it kind of diminishes his dream a little bit because at that point, we’re not working together.” In Atlanta — where the holiday has long been a big but generally mellow and celebratory affair — a showdown occurred between the civil rights old guard and the new, more boisterous generation of protesters, many of whom were catalyzed to action by the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., and Eric Garner in Staten Island, both at the hands of the police. The last parade was in 2009. “I don’t know if MLK’s message has worn off but it has definitely changed, especially when you think about the police and all the recent murders,” Castro said. “Its important to remember some of Dr. He was a radical organiser – he’s been arrested, he believed in non-violence, but he was also disruptive,” said Linda Sarsour, spokeswoman for the Justice League NYC, which organised the #Dream4Justice March.

King’s later statements, specifically about integrating his people into a burning building,” said Jersey City resident Christian Shearer. “I think we as Americans need to focus on class issues. With signs, slogans and shouts, they inserted themselves into the annual parade as it made its way down Peachtree Street, Atlanta’s downtown thoroughfare. In Florida, a jury acquitted George Zimmerman in July 2013 in the shooting death of Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old in a hoodie who had just bought candy at a local store. The group will hold a candelight vigil at the site where Garner died after being put in a chokehold by a white police officer on Staten Island last summer. By high school, I was reading more and more about King, his life, the speeches that punctuate his legacy and the way he went about organizing, even amidst fierce opposition.

Garner’s final words – “I can’t breathe” – became a rallying cry for protests against police violence after a grand jury declined to indict the officer. Sharpton was to visit the Pink Houses in Brooklyn, where Gurley, described by the police commissioner, Bill Bratton, as “totally innocent”, was unarmed when two officers conducting a patrol appeared to have accidentally fired on a darkened stairwell. Carrying a cardboard box decorated like a coffin, and demanding to be heard, they chanted, “Black people are dying.” Organizers of the commemoration seemed both frustrated and accommodating, allowing the demonstrators to take the podium for a time, during which one young man declared that he had had enough of “the M.L.K. they shove down our throats.” K. But their first stop on Monday afternoon was to say a prayer at the Brooklyn street corner where the NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were killed by Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who had posted anti-police statements on social media before travelling to Brooklyn from Baltimore. Picture: Carlo Allegri REUTERS President Barack Obama, the nation’s first African-American president, took a more traditional approach to honoring King, spending the day working with his family and other children on a literacy project at a Washington charity.

Renee Robertson of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference said afterward that she thought the insurgents’ passion was “great.” “But do it in the right way,” Ms. He said the wreath represented “that we are against the spilling of innocent blood,” before calling a moment’s silence in memory of the fallen officers.

Nationwide, 121 US law enforcement officers died in the line of duty last year, including many in shootouts with armed suspects, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, Inc. The officers’ deaths inflamed a dispute between the police department and De Blasio, with hundreds of police turning their backs on the mayor as he spoke at funerals for the patrolmen who were killed. Louis, where several thousand people marched from the city’s Old Courthouse, where enslaved blacks were once sold as property, to Harris-Stowe State University, where the marchers joined a packed auditorium for an interfaith service. In Harlem, Sharpton hit back at the police unions, especially the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and its president Patrick Lynch, who said there was “blood on the steps of city hall” in the wake of the killing of two police officers in Brooklyn in December.

Sharpton condemned the “name-calling and ugliness” of recent weeks, and specifically singled out the “venomous and unfair” criticism of the mayor. “Let’s start talking like adults”, he said. De Blasio struck a more conciliatory tone than Sharpton. “It is up to all of us to say to those who purport to want change: if you’re saying something vicious and vile to a police officer, you’re not bringing change,” he said. He said his office was “retraining our police to get them closer to the community,” saying that less violence protected police and communities both. Louis police officers helped university security officers clear the stage. “The difference this year is that people are more energized,” said State Senator Jamilah Nasheed, a St. Louis Democrat who has been involved in the Ferguson protests. “They are ready to rise up and promote change.” One of the day’s larger gatherings was in Philadelphia, where thousands marched peacefully through the city center, calling for an end to a stop-and frisk policy by the city police, higher funding for cash-starved public schools and an increase in the minimum wage. “This is to make people aware that it’s not just a day of service,” Wesley Wilson-Bey, 68, said at a rally outside the school district headquarters. “People have relegated Dr.

Tate lived only a few blocks away from Gurley, and said the shooting mobilized his community into action. “It could have been anyone in our community,” said Tate. “The irony is painful for us. Last week in Boston, some protesters faced criticism when an ambulance had to be diverted after protesters attached themselves to cement-filled barrels on the northbound and southbound sides of Interstate 93, blocking traffic. Monday, almost 47 years later, people from all walks of life celebrated King’s legacy, from scholars gathering at Boston University, which maintains a collection of his letters and manuscripts, to the mix of Baby Boomers and young college students that demonstrated on the streets of Boston. I felt the love he still has for you Dr Bernice King,” he said, addressing King’s daughter. “I only stepped into his shoes for a moment, but I asked myself, ‘How did he do it?’” Oyelowo said.

He explained that he, like King, has four children and said he cannot imagine walking through life knowing there are people who wanted to take their lives or that of his wife.

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