At least 50,000 Americans are expected to march on Washington D.C. on Friday to demand police reform and justice for black lives, even as President Trump is accused of promoting racism under ‘law and order’ while Joe Biden has called for better policing and equality under the law.
The marchers would call for criminal justice reform and racial equality and honor the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address from the same spot.
Organizers began planning in June after the funeral of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died at the hand of police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.
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The crowd would not be as large as what was originally planned to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Masks are required and social distancing measures would be implemented.
More than 180,000 Americans have died from coronavirus under the Trump administration, with more than a thousand people dead in the past 24 hours, even as Trump was declaring victory over his response to the pandemic on Thursday night.
The United States has the worst death toll and the highest number of infections in the world, the result of a shocking failure of leadership by Trump, who has described the deadly virus as a hoax, rallied against wearing masks and undermined medical experts in his own team as numbers kept going up and polls showed he may lose to Biden next November.
Organizers of the march would highlight the civil rights issues of today and bring well-known speakers to address the crowd, including Matin Luther King III and Reverend El Sharpton.
“The march — dubbed the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington — will begin with speeches from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, followed by a choreographed march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park. The event is expected to end about 3 p.m.,” The Washington Post said.
In a statement, Amnesty International USA (AIUSA) said its members will join the historic 2020 March on Washington to “demand an end to the killings of Black people by the police and systemic reform to root out racism and radically change our approach to law enforcement.”
The organization said “AIUSA actively supported the passage of the Justice in Policing Act by the House, which the Senate has refused to take up. With Black Lives Matter growing into the largest social justice movement in U.S. history, the March will channel the energy of thousands of activists to call on Congress to recommit to meaningful police reform.
“On the day of the March, AIUSA is launching a new action, in partnership with New York County Public Defenders, to demand that New York County District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. ensures that the investigation into the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) conduct during the attempted arrest of and charges brought against Derrick Ingram, a prominent Black Lives Matter activist, is done in a prompt, impartial, independent, and transparent manner. Earlier this month, Derrick’s apartment was besieged, without warrant, by the NYPD, because of his involvement in recent Black Lives Matter protests in New York City. According to the New York Times, the raid involved helicopters and dozens of police, some of whom were wearing riot gear. After writing to the District Attorney on August 27, Amnesty International USA was advised that his office had opened an investigation into Derrick Ingram’s case. AIUSA will be mobilizing its nationwide network of grassroots organizers in the coming weeks to support Derrick’s case and demand the right to protest be upheld.
“The New York City Police Department and Commissioner Shea projected their message loud and clear. Our movement does not matter to them, dissent is met with intimidation, and the vilification of Black bodies and the terrorism of the Black spirit is a part of their playbook. The attempted siege of my home was a political message to sow fear within our movement. People all over America have organized, protested and strategized because we have reached a fever pitch. We are done witnessing and experiencing the continued brutality and violence against Black lives. Instead of protecting our right to peacefully protest, the police are retaliating against us,” said New York Black Lives Matter Organizer Derrick Ingram. “This wasn’t simply a case of excessive force: it was purposeful police abuse, a signal to all protesters and dissenters past and present. I’m grateful that AIUSA and New York County Defender Services are supporting me- ensuring justice is upheld and to prevent this from happening again.”
“AIUSA interviewed Derrick for its August 2020 report The World is Watching, which documents 125 incidents of human rights abuses by police against protesters across the country over the course of one week of Black Lives Matter protests. In a 2015 report, Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States, AIUSA found that all 50 states and Washington, D.C. fail to comply with international law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers, a fact that, upon review this year, remains true five years later. Amnesty International is calling for root and branch police reform at the federal, state and local levels in order to address systemic racism and the widespread misuse of force by law enforcement officials.
“Civil rights are human rights. But nearly 60 years after Dr. Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, our country has a long way to go until all of us can live in dignity, safety, and free from violence. AIUSA is horrified by the continued killings of Black people by the police and the use of excessive force against peaceful protesters demanding respect and justice for Black lives,” said Ernest Coverson, campaign manager for AIUSA’s End Gun Violence Campaign. “Derrick’s case is an extreme example of law enforcement abusing their power to silence those speaking out against injustices and further demonstrates the need to reform the police from the ground up. What happened to Derrick and other Black Lives Matter activists can never happen again.”