Black Live Matter

‘Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks’

Tens of thousands join Get Your Knee Off Our Necks march in Washington DC

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US PRESS GROUP

Tens of thousands of people gathered in Washington DC on Friday, demanding criminal justice reform following a summer of protests against systemic racism and against police treatment of Black people.

The Get Your Knee Off Our Necks march, announced in early June following the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, also marks the 57th anniversary of the March on Washington, where Martin Luther King Jr gave his “I have a dream” speech in 1963 urging racial equality.

Organized by the civil rights campaigner Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and groups including the NAACP and the National Urban League, Friday’s rally will highlight police brutality and the need for reform, and demand voting rights protections ahead of the November elections.

“We are tired of the mistreatment and the violence that we, as Black Americans, have been subjected to for hundreds of years,” Sharpton said in a statement.

“Like those who marched before us, we are standing up and telling the police, telling lawmakers, telling the people and systems that have kept us down for years, ‘Get your knee off our necks.’”

The Washington march comes days after Jacob Blake became the latest in a series of black people to suffer brutal treatment at the hands of police.

Blake was shot in the back by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Sunday, and remains in hospital. His father said on Tuesday that Blake had been paralyzed from the waist down.

Members of his family will talk at the rally on Friday – as will the families of George Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, all black people killed by police or by individuals on the extremist fringes who regarded themselves as vigilantes.

Martin Luther King III, a son of the late civil rights icon, and the civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing several families of recent victims of violence or police actions, are also scheduled to speak.

The march was organized amid protests over the killing of Floyd.

The 46-year-old died after a police officer knelt on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, including the final two minutes when Floyd was unconscious.

“The reason why George Floyd laying there with that knee on his neck resonated with so many African-Americans is because we have all had a knee on our neck,” Sharpton told USA Today.

The march will be matched by demonstrations in states which have a high Covid risk, NAN said, including in Montgomery, Alabama and Las Vegas, Nevada.

The NAACP will also host a “virtual march”, the organization said.

Speakers will include the New Jersey senator Cory Booker, congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, from Michigan, and Stacey Abrams.

A group of protesters are due at the march who have walked all the way from Milwaukee to the nation’s capital for the event.

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