Thousands Rally In DC Over Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

VIDEO – Washington, DC: The Day After The Ferguson Decision by Elias Weston-Farber

Thousands rallied in Washington, DC on Tuesday to support the Ferguson, Missouri community following a controversial grand jury decision not to indict White police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black youth. Civil rights advocates urged participants to get involved in changing police policies leading to brutality and lopsided minority incarceration rates. The protest was nonviolent and there were no arrests.

Speakers described police brutality and economic pressures as major issues confronting Black communities across the US. They called for immediate changes in policing with citizen review boards and demilitarization of police.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 8.59.27 AMThe rally left Mt. Vernon Square and surged through the nation’s capital, closing down streets and stopping by a Walmart. The demonstration then marched to Chinatown, a retail business center in Washington, DC, where it obstructed streets for an hour.

Over 140 Major cities in 38 states held similar solidarity protests on behalf of Ferguson community.

Salim Adofo, National Vice Chairperson withNational Black United Front (NBUF), called on people to get involved in grassroots organizing to help change policing. “If we are going to have any control over the police, we have to actually engage the system and take control,” he said.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 8.59.52 AMEugene Puryear, an organizer with Answer Coalition, appealed for youth to take action. “If you look at history, it’s young people who make the changes,” he said. Puryear said advocates would keep the pressure on DC Council to create a citizen review board for independent oversight of police shootings. “We are human beings, and we will not be shot down in the street like dogs,” he said.

Screen Shot 2014-11-28 at 9.00.36 AMThe rally left Mt. Vernon Square and marched to a Walmart on H Street, shutting it down temporarily. Puryear called on the Walton family–with a net worth of $144.7 billion–to pay a living wage and ease the economic burden on Black families.

Aman Ardalan, a member of Safety With Accountability and Transparency (SWATSPP), a police watchdog group, said, “Low wage work conditions for Blacks in disadvantaged communities are connected to the struggle Black youth face.”

Ultimately, he said, it’s about “not being treated right.”

The events in Ferguson have woken people up and struck a chord in their collective consciousness, according to Senghor Baye, President General of Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA). “I feel terrible but good at the same time,” he said. “It’s a terrible situation, but we’re creating a good time for a movement.”

Kim Cohen, a grandmother from Boulder Colorado, pushed for an economic boycott, urging demonstrators not to spend during the holidays, and other tactics. “There’s something else we can do. It’s called a general strike,” she said. “It worked in Selma.”

Activists plan a Black Friday rally on November 28th at 8 am at Union Station to draw attention to low wages and economic pressures facing Black communities.

This Saturday they will rally again at 12 pm in Georgetown, Washington, DC..