WASHINGTON – Activists participated in a day of peaceful protests Tuesday after a violent night in Ferguson,Mo.,with crowds in both cities reacting to the failure of a grand jury to return an indictment against the police officer who shot Michael Brown.
The protesters ranged from students in high school,university and preparatory school to people from other races who protested in solidarity.
“We don’t want to sit in school while this is happening,” Rina Holzman,15,a student at Woodrow Wilson High School,said.
Rina,a 10th grader,researched and found more than 40 unarmed African Americans had been shot and killed by police across the country from 1968 to 2014. She spoke at a protest outside the building where the the D.C. Council meets.
The series of protests was to span 28 hours,starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday to noon Wednesday,concluding at the D.C. NAACP office. The protesters appeared outside police headquarters,the office of police complaints,the D.C. Council,the mayor-elect’s transition office,an evening rally at Mount Vernon Square and a promised post-rally surprise action.
Black Youth Project 100 organized the protest called 28 hours for Mike Brown. The group was founded to advocate for justice and freedom for all black people.
Though the crowds in the D.C. protests did not attract as many people as those in in Ferguson, organizers were optimistic they got their message out.
“We have to do a lot more until they feel that it’s a problem affecting them,and that’s when we’ll start seeing change,” Adam Inyang,leadership and development chair of the BYP100 D.C. chapter,said.
“We’re not just going to Facebook and tweet about it,” Marline Cox,a theater student at Georgetown University,said. “If people don’t take a stand,nothing will be done. Police brutality needs to stop.”
She said that even though it’s Thanksgiving there’s nothing to be thankful for.
BYP100 protesters listed a raft of demands for decision makers,elected officials and law enforcements agencies. They include increased community oversight and accountability over law enforcement agencies,repeal of criminal laws targeting young people,having police wear body cameras and the demilitarization of law enforcement agencies.
The D.C. police department is experimenting with body cameras and expects to have all officers wearing them in two to three years.
Earlier,a handful of protesters gathered outside the Department of Justice,where one protester lay on the ground,symbolizing a person shot by police. Police stood watch nearby and ensured passersby did not pass within the protesters’ circle.
But that didn’t satisfy some of the protesters.
“The police are not here to protect us. They are here to police us,” Toni Sanders Think MOOR cofounder,said.
The Department of Justice protest was organized by Think MOOR (Movement of Organized Revolutionaries),a group formed after Brown’s death to advocate for the end of racism.
“I have a 5-year-old boy I’m raising in D.C. This is why I’m here. Because if I don’t fight,he may be next,” Sade Cooper,24,a teacher and founding member of Think MOOR,said.
“We cannot treat the symptom. We have to treat the cause,” she said.
The protests brought out people from different races in solidarity with the protesters.
Mina Habashi,23,a Japanese-American,works for a nonprofit and participated to show solidarity. As an Asian Pacific islander,she said the issue of police and military presence in the U.S. and Japan concerns her.
“The militarization of police has also affected API as a whole with heavy U.S. military presence,” she said.
Others came because they felt communities everywhere are at risk of injustice.
“Ferguson is the tip of the iceberg,of not only St. Louis’ issues but our country’s issues” Lydia Marie,23,a Howard University senior student working with Amnesty International,said. “Nobody should suffer death as a consequence of existence.”
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