WASHINGTON, D.C.: Several thousand demonstrators turned out Saturday in Washington to demand racial justice in the United States, days after NFL players across the country defied President Donald Trump by taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality.
It comes as the country is experiencing a period of heightened racial tensions as white supremacist groups have come increasingly to the fore, culminating in the death of a liberal protester in August.
An opinion poll published by CBS News Friday highlighted growing polarization: fifty-two percent of Americans disapprove of athletes staging protests during the national anthem—but they also do not like President Donald Trump’s handling of the issue.
“We have a criminal justice system that keeps black people and brown people in servitude in perpetuity,” 46-year-old Maurice Cook, who helped organize today’s March For Racial Justice, told AFP.
A separate March for Black Women joined the protest at its Lincoln Park starting point, with black and indigenous women leading the way to the Capitol.
“Part of this is that it is taking place on the Capitol, and in front of Trump. The only way that he can see anything is for you to be in his face—Trump and any politician who doesn’t understand white privilege,” a protester named Jenny, 44, told AFP.
The demonstration was timed to commemorate the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre of 1919 in Arkansas, the most deadly racial conflict in the US. Between 100 and 240 black people were killed in riots after a group of black farmers tried to create a union—but only black people involved faced criminal proceedings.
Several recent cases have fuelled suggestions the US justice system disfavors the African-American community.
On September 12, the US Justice Department announced it would not bring federal charges against six police officers in Baltimore as part of an investigation into the death of black teenager Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured in a police van in 2015.