Thousands of people in Washington call for an end to police violence

Demonstrators of all ages and origins invaded the National Mall, this vast esplanade of the American capital, in peace. They listened, in particular, to the speech of the Reverend Al Sharpton, a figure of the civil rights movement and one of the organizers of this march.

A march of high symbolic value, since it was held on the occasion of the 57th anniversary from the famous speech de Martin Luther King, « I have a dream ».

In his address, Al Sharpton recalled the names of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Jacob Blake.

George Floyd was suffocated by a white policeman in Minneapolis; Breonna Taylor was shot and killed in her Louisville home by officers who apparently had the wrong apartment; and Jacob Blake is hospitalized after being the target of police fire in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The serious injuries inflicted on Mr. Blake caused a unprecedented protest movement in the world of sport. Football, baseball and tennis games have been postponed.

For Reverend Al Sharpton, this mobilization in the world of sport represents a real cultural change.

People would hear activists like me say things, but now there are these athletes, whom they and their children admire, who say the same thing and put their income and reputation on the line; it is decisiveAl Sharpton told protesters, gathered outside the Abraham Lincoln memorial. It was precisely there that in 1963 Martin Luther King gave his speech which has now become history.

Racism and mustache

Reverend Sharpton called on Americans for a discussion about their racism and their mustache. And he urged them to go and vote on November 4, when Donald Trump is running for a second term as president.

On June 4, when funeral of George Floyd, it was Al Sharpton that George Floyd’s family had chosen to deliver the eulogy.

Members of the Floyd family were also present, Friday in Washington, for this event baptized as follows: “Take your knee off our neck”. It is a reference to how the 46-year-old man died on May 25 after a white policeman rested his knee against his neck for nearly eight minutes.

The policeman in question was accused of murder in connection with this case.

Very moved, George Floyd’s brother, Philonise, thanked the demonstrators for their mobilization. Change is happening because we demand it […] our leaders must follow us, he said.

Le drame de Kenosha

Jacob Blake’s father, meanwhile, had the song chanted No justice, no peace.

Last Monday, the state of Wisconsin opened a criminal investigation after a Kenosha policeman shot Jacob Blake several times in the back on Sunday.

The police officers involved were put on administrative leave, the state justice department said in a statement.

During the protest in Washington on Friday, Jacob Blake’s father claimed he lost the use of his legs and was still handcuffed to his hospital bed. According to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Jacob Blake had his handcuffs removed in the afternoon on Friday.

The drama that struck this family is the most recent in a long series in the United States. Not only did it lead to protests peppered with violence over three nights in Kenosha, but it claimed other lives. Two people were indeed shot dead during the violence, which led to the filing murder charges premeditated against a 17 year old teenager.

With information from Sonia Dridi, on RDI

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