Jose Luis Magana/AP Photo
Thousands of protesters walked down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. today to march alongside the families of African-Americans killed in recent months by law enforcement officers.
“Let’s keep it strong, long and meaningful,” Eric Garner’s widow told the crowd. Garner died in July after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold while stopping to arrest him for allegedly selling “loosie” cigarettes.
There was a moment of confusion before the march began. A group came on stage with a megaphone, demanding the people of Ferguson, Missouri – where Brown, 18, was fatally shot over the summer – be allowed on stage to speak.
The rally’s MC called for calm, saying he had a message from Michael Brown’s father, who was expected to speak later while some in the crowd chanted, “Let them speak.”
“[Brown’s family is] asking that we not do this like this,” he said. “We are not going to disrespect the families that have lost real lives here.”
After a few minutes of arguing, a woman, identified by The Associated Press as Johnetta Elzie, addressed the crowd, saying, “This movement was started by the young people.” The group, made up mostly of people appearing to be in their 20s, then left the stage, reports the AP.
Reverend Al Sharpton addressed the crowd after the interruption.
“Don’t let no provocateurs get you out of line,” said Sharpton. “We are not here to play big shot. We are here to win.”
Protests – some violent – have continued since two grand juries declined to file charges against officers in the deaths of Brown and Garner.
Another march is planned for later today in New York City.
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