Exactly 57 years after the first March on Washington and 65 years after the murder of Emmett Till, demonstrators came together once more to protest against police brutality and racial discrimination.
A march continuing the unfinished work of its predecessor convened Friday, led by the Reverend Al Sharpton and the National Action Network along with a number of other organizations. Organizers said the march displayed their “advocacy for comprehensive police accountability reform, the census, and mobilizing voters for the November elections.”
Family members of Black people killed by police such as George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner and Jacob Blake spoke at the Lincoln Memorial, along with Rev. Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, the son of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. (MLK).
Protesters then marched from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The event is available via livestream.
“Despite the mammoth 2020 movement for racial justice that was sparked by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers, state-sanctioned police brutality against Black people continues unabated,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “We stand with the marchers on the streets today demanding accountability.”
Following the march, the Movement For Black Lives broadcast a Black National Convention at 7 p.m. EST. The organizers’ political agenda advocates for defunding police departments and reinvesting the money in community services, along with a number of other policies supporting black communities.
Rev. Sharpton announced the march at the funeral for George Floyd, who was murdered by police after an officer kneeled on his neck for almost nine minutes. The name of the march, “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks Commitment March on Washington,” is in honor of Floyd.
“The reason why George Floyd laying there with that knee on his neck resonated with so many African-Americans is because we have all had a knee on our neck,” said Rev. Sharpton—who said the march “restore[s] and recommit[s]” the dream MLK described in his “I Have A Dream” speech during the first March on Washington.
Protesters advocate for the passage of two legislative measures combating police violence and racial discrimination. One of these measures is the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would prohibit no-knock warrants in drug cases, ban chokeholds and create a national registry of police misconduct among other measures.
The protesters also call for the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act in honor of Sen. John Lewis, who passed away recently and spoke at the first March on Washington. The bill would combat racial discrimination against voters.
Organizers estimated thousands of protesters attended the march in Washington D.C., while thousands more watched from home or attended smaller marches in states such as South Carolina, Alabama, Florida and Wisconsin.
Strict measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 were enforced, with mandatory temperature checks and masks required.