WASHINGTON — The Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets of Washington, D.C., to block traffic Thursday in protest against police brutality and what they see as systematic institutional racism.
Protesters marched through the streets and cornered off intersections. They even stepped in front of moving traffic, ignoring the scorn and honking from drivers trying to pass by. The protesters had a simple message for frustrated drivers. They argued that a moment of discomfort paled in comparison to what black people have to deal with on a regular basis.
“Black Lives Matter is more than just a hashtag,” organizer April Goggans told the crowd while standing in the middle of an intersection. “We’re here to show black lives really do matter.”
Goggans also condemned the city while discussing the national problem of racism. She said city leaders have enacted policies to purposely push out minority and lower-income individuals. Goggans called for the resignation off Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser for what she has done against fellow black people.
“D.C. is not immune to police brutality,” Goggans declared. “The mayor and this city have a well thought out plan… It’s time for Mayor Muriel Bowser to go.”
The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 to combat violence against minority populations. Participants have rallied against police brutality and what they see as systematic racism on nearly every level of government. Protesters listed Tamir Rice, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, Jonathan Ferrell, Sandra Bland, Samuel DuBose and Freddie Gray among others as examples of unjust violence against black individuals.
“I’m out here because black lives matter and clearly this country doesn’t realize that,” protester Jazzlyn Lindsey told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Police brutality, legislative issues, economic inequality, housing disparities, food, everything, affordable education. In every single way institutional racism is keeping black people down.”
Critics have denounced the movement, citing what they believe to be brash methods. Protesters hijacked a rally Aug. 8 for Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. While Sanders helplessly stood by, protesters began making demands in the microphone. The self-proclaimed democratic-socialist was a civil rights advocate throughout his life including back during the 1960s as a college student.
Awa Sergeant sees no national politician as being on their side. She says they all too often betray the black community for political expediency even when it seem like they could be an advocate.
“I’m fighting for my rights as a black person on this planet, so that’s why I’m here today,” Sergeant told TheDCNF. “Systematic violence that has been going on for a long time is still being perpetuated by police officers.”
There have been several incidences of alleged police misconduct that garnered national attention in the last couple years. Gray died in April from spinal injuries while in the custody of Baltimore police. Additionally Michael Brown was shot dead in Ferguson, Mo. by local police. Both deaths resulted in several protests as well as riots and looting.
Another incident involving police misconduct resulted in the death of Eric Garner. New York City Officer Daniel Pantaleo, was accused of choking Garner to death in 2014. Garner was heard shouting that he couldn’t breathe as he was wrestled to the ground. The incident made national headlines and sparked a debate on police using excessive force and institutional racism. At the time Pantaleo caught Garner selling untaxed cigarettes.
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