SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Thousands of demonstrators streamed down Pennsylvania Avenue on Saturday, shouting “Black lives matter,” “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “I can’t breathe” to call attention to the recent deaths of unarmed African American men at the hands of police.
The peaceful civil rights march led by families of the slain and organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network drew a wide range of Americans — black, white, Latino, Asian, young and elderly. They walked east toward the U.S. Capitol in a stream of colorful T-shirts, banners and signs.
The day’s most poignant moment came when a number of family members of black men and boys killed by police — Eric Garner, Michael Brown, John Crawford III, Tamar Rice and Amadou Diallo — took the stage at a rally at the Capitol.
“What a sea of people,” said Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Brown, an 18-year-old killed in Ferguson, Mo, in August. “Thank you for having my back.”
“This is a history-making moment,” said Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr. “We need to stand like this at all times.”
“Let’s keep it strong, long and meaningful,” said Esaw Garner, the widow of Garner, who was killed by an officer in New York City in July.
Several protesters walked up to Michael Brown Sr., seeking hugs, handshakes or a picture. Brown tried to be accommodating to the many requests, at one point showing a young man how to take a selfie.
“This means the world to me, to see everyone coming together for a common cause,” Brown said.
But all did not go as planned, as a group of young demonstrators opposed to Sharpton, who they view as a celebrity activist seeking to take over a movement they started in Ferguson, seized the stage for a few minutes by shouting through a bullhorn. Many in the crowd frowned on the intrusion.