March on Washington: thousands expected in historic civil rights march

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Thousands of people are expected to rally in Washington DC to commemorate the 1963 Washington Civil Rights March and to protest police violence.

The families of black Americans shot or killed by police will speak on the same site where Martin Luther King Jr gave his I Have a Dream speech.

Friday’s event is called the Walk of Engagement: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks, a reference to the death of George Floyd.

It follows further protests against the police shooting on Jacob Blake.

Relatives of Mr Blake, Mr Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Eric Garner are expected to deliver speeches during the march.

They will be joined by Civil Rights Leader Reverend Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, the eldest son of Mr. King Jr.

The incident follows sometimes violent protests against Mr. Blake’s shooting that left two dead in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Mr Blake was shot and wounded by police last Sunday.

Since Mr. Floyd’s death in May, marches in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and against racism and police brutality have swept the United States and the world.

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Protesters continue to demand justice for Mr Floyd, who died after being held by police, one of whom had his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck, and Breonna Taylor, who was shot to death at her home when agents searched his apartment.

Democratic vice-presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris is also expected to address the rally virtually.

Reverend Sharpton announced the march – which falls on the 57th anniversary of the 1963 event – during Mr Floyd’s memorial service in June.

His organization, the National Action Network, worked with Mr. King III to organize the march.

Planners said the event would bring together generations for a day of action to advocate for police reform and to urge Americans to vote in the next presidential election.

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‘We are in crisis’

BBC’s Sam Cabral and Shrai Popat in Washington DC

Participants lined up along Constitution Avenue at 7 a.m. in preparation for the march.

Lloyd Miner came from Philadelphia this morning.

“I am here to play my role and give this administration the mandate that we mean what we say: we want change,” he said.

For Rex Ikwueme, there is a sense of urgency.

“We are in a crisis and we really need to put things in order,” he says. “We can’t live like this and we can’t see my people die on a movie every week. This is not normal. ”

“Obviously, with the way the police behave in different parts of the country, they see us as targets and we can’t have that,” he continued. “It contradicts the whole American dream. ”

Police violence against African Americans is a priority for many protesters today.

Artelia Bryant, of Roanoke, Va., Says she thinks not much has changed since 1963.

Bryant wants lawmakers and law enforcement to be held accountable for the deaths of blacks in custody.

Where do they start?

“The cops are arrested,” says Bryant. “They can start with the cops who killed Breonna Taylor. “

Up to 50,000 people were expected, said Reverend Sharpton.

Given concerns related to Covid-19, people have been encouraged to participate virtually if they cannot attend or at local marches that are taking place in other states. In Washington, there will be mandatory temperature checks and masks as well as social distancing.

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Additionally, buses from states considered virus hotspots will no longer come to the capital.

Also on Friday, activists from the National Black Convention – organized by the Movement for Black Lives – will adopt a political platform.

Among the initiatives on the agenda are slavery-related reparations, cutting funding to police services and investing in health care, housing and social services in black communities, organizers said. . It was written by hundreds of delegates from across the country.

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Media legend‘We’re at breaking point’ – Four people reflect on the significance of this year’s Washington March event

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