A Goal Unattained: Millions Still Marching for “Justice for All”
WASHINGTON, D.C. — On the fortieth summer since Congress passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, — legally declaring all U.S. citizens to have equal rights and protections under the law — the country was once again questioning “Liberty and Justice for All,” as it had during the time of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
In July 2014, Eric Garner was choked to death by authorities on Staten Island, New York, and Michael Brown was shot to death — and subsequently left in the street, lying facedown in his blood for hours on a hot August day — by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, less than three weeks later.
What followed was a nation divided along tribal lines, with many Americans arguing whether they believe racism exists, and the mainstream media’s coverage, or lack thereof, influencing such opinions, rather than seeking solutions for the problems.
A year later, after protests across the country Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan called on the entire country to meet at the nation’s Capitol to stand in solidarity against the clear state of emergency regarding policing in our largely minority — namely, black — urban communities.
October 10, 2015
It was beautiful: the sun was shining, temperatures felt mid-50’s, there was an infrequent, light rain and breeze, and a feeling of optimism filled the streets as we made our way southwest on Maryland Avenue from the subway to the National Mall.
People gathered from all around the country, encompassing black, white, Native American, Latino and
others of all ages, many groups bringing younger family members to show them the power of the people.
History was all around — cultural artwork; apparel and photographs adorned with historical figures, from Dr. King to President Barrack Obama, as well as victims of police brutality, like Tamir Rice, the 12-year-old Cleveland boy who was killed by police in November 2014; not to mention all that comes with a visit to Washington, D.C.
What must have been dozens of thousands already assembled along Maryland Avenue, continued as far east as I could see — to the security checkpoint at the National Mall, just west of the Capitol building — by 10 a.m.
Despite the optimistic feelings, the people gathered for a reason. Something more important than any one person there was at stake. They were fed up with social injustices, such as the police brutality issue among impoverished communities.
They came to make their voices heard.
“Justice or else.”
Some people are having difficulties understanding the concept of the 2015 Million Man March, some even criticizing the theme, along with the March’s principal organizer, Minister Louis Farrakhan, for trying to incite violence.
Rather, many of the people I spoke with told me they came to show strength in unity and to work together toward a solution as our nation’s leaders ignore our concerns.
The March was also an opportunity to “pass the torch,” as Farrakhan said during his speech.
“What good are we if we don’t prepare young people to carry that torch of liberation to the next step? What good are we if we think we can last forever and not prepare others to walk in our footsteps?”
Where is the confusion?
We’ve all been there: Police patrolling past the porches and stoops of our homes like clockwork, observing us, “protecting” us.
Meanwhile, the gangsters and criminals sit in the shadows nearby carrying on their business activities out of the public’s view, often getting away with much of it.
They are not protecting us. They are profiling us.
No, innocent people get caught in the middle. Criminals and police both kill innocent people. But when a cop does it, I’ve heard things like, “The police were just doing their jobs; their jobs are dangerous. They need to watch out for themselves.”
No, they are public servants, and their jobs are to protect the innocent public.
Police officers’ jobs are not to make their jobs as safe as possible for themselves, but rather to keep as many people as safe as possible, and protect themselves in the process. The way I see it, they likely became officers for one of two reasons: 1) to protect and serve or 2) to have a job. Either way, the mantra is “To protect and serve,” not “To command and control.”
The fact is, these things are not happening to all of us. They are concentrated in impoverished, high-crime communities, and consequently in our society, neighborhoods comprising predominantly minorities. The police patrolling so harshly these communities is a factor that has led to the distrust of police among inhabitants of those areas — mainly blacks.
That is why so many heeded Farrakhan’s call. That is why we are chanting “Black Lives Matter.” The question should not be, Why are we?
The question should be, Why aren’t you?