The National Action Network held a Justice for All march Saturday to call attention to U.S. police brutality against minorities and to discuss a legislative agenda to charge and prosecute officers found to be responsible.
In the U.S. Capitol the movement against police brutality was highlighted by the Justice For All march steered by Rev. Al Sharpton, president of The National Action Network. In the morning, more than 10,000 people gathered in Freedom Plaza, according to The Associated Press. They marched from the Plaza 10 blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue to rally in front of the Capitol building.
The march coincided with demonstrations in New York, San Francisco and Boston. Internationally, London Black Revolutionaries ‘died’ against police brutality.
The marchers chanted statements that have become familiar to the movement, like “No Justice, No Peace. I can’t breathe. Hands up, Don’t shoot.” and “What do we want? Justice, When do we want it? Now.”
The crowd was led by the families of black males that have been killed by police officers, including the family of Eric Garner, a 43-year-old who died after being place in a chokehold by a police officer in July; the parents of 18-year-old Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by a police officer in August; the mother of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, who was shot and killed by police in November; the parents of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in 2012; the parents of 20-year-old John Crawford III, who was shot and killed by police in August; the mother of 23-year-old Amadou Diallo,who was shot and killed by police in 1999; and the partner of Akai Gurley, who was killed by police in November, and LeVar Jones, a 35-year-old shot and killed by an officer in September.
Sharpton said the march was led for the victims and asked for national legislation as well as federal intervention to handle cases of police brutality.
“We’ve come to Washington to call on this Congress and national government to do what was done before, we need national legislation and intervention to save us from state grand juries who say it is alright to choke people even on tape and we won’t bring them to court,” Sharpton said. “We are American citizens who can’t breathe in their own communities.”
He added that when prosecutors have relationships with local law enforcement it may cause bias in presenting cases to grand juries.
“We cannot trust those that work together every day and depend on each other to do their work to have a non-conflicting inquiry of each other,” he said.
Eric Garner‘s daughter said when her father said he couldn’t breathe, it was symbolic of him now not being able to feed and take care of his family.
“We came for justice. We are going to get justice,” she said.
John Crawford Sr. said the victims deaths would be vindicated and emphasized the need for more diversity inside the justice system.
“We need to apply pressure where pressure is needed,” Crawford said, adding that Congress needed more diversity as well.
“When we are done marching, we are going to change laws,” Pamela Meanes, president of the National Bar Association, said. “I fix that which is broken.”
Meanes cited plans to reform the jury system, propose stricter mental testing for officers, define excessive force in law and make it a felony for officers to witness police brutality.
Representatives of the National Urban League and the NAACP also spoke about reforming the justice system.