Carrying the baton for justice

A protestor carries a placard at the rally at the foot of the Goethals Bridge prior to the beginning of the march to Washington DC.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

It’ll take nine days at 18-25 miles each day for #march2justice activists to arrive by foot in Washington DC.

Organized by the Justice League NYC, the historic march’s intent is to show solidarity with communities impacted by police brutality and those incarcerated and to deliver a Justice Package to Congress.

The itinerary brings the marchers through New Jersey, first New Brunswick, then Trenton to Philadelphia. Church groups house the demonstrators at night and there are several rallies along the way, the first in Newark.

Before marchers took off on Monday, March 13, a rally generated a lot of excitement at the foot of Staten Island’s Goethals Bridge, from where they would head to New Jersey.

President of 1199 George Gresham paid tribute to the three women Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour and Tamika Mallory, the current generation of civil rights activists organizing the march. Harry Belafonte founded the Justice League NYC.

Harlem resident Seson Adams, who has worked with Amnesty International and also John Liu, is expected to walk the whole route which passes through five states. “I have a 17-year-old daughter. With all that we see, I have to answer, ‘What did you do to help people help themselves?’” said Adams.

1199SEIU President George Gresham said he would join intermittedly with the marchers. At the rally he embraced the “role of the elder” acknowledging that the committed “not easy walk” was organized by many in their 20s and 30s. “It was their vision to “not sit by and not have a future.” The march highlights certain issues from economic inequality, the pipeline to the prison system, and police killings of unarmed black men.

Many elected officials — Council Members Jumaane Williams (Bk), Andy King (BX), and Debi Rose (SI) spoke eloquently about the timeliness and importance of this march.

Member of Assembly Jamaican-heritage Michael Blake (BX) said, “When there’s injustice you have to speak out. People can’t continue to die. In the S. Bronx there are too many caskets. We marched in the 60s, we’ll march in 2015 until justice happens.” He was planning to march the route on the first day.

A permit issued allowed for only 50 marchers to walk across the Goethals Bridge. (Other supporters joined them on the other side.) This created quite a hoopla for a slew of local Staten Island electeds who opposed the bridge closing. When Council Member Williams spoke he drew attention to the insensitivity of his colleagues with their obstructionism.

The march travels to Oxford, PA, then Bel Aire, MD. By Saturday they will be in Baltimore. Executive 1199SEIU VP Estela Vazquez will join marchers there at the rally with 1199SEIU at the National Urban League at 7:00 p.m.

Marchers will arrive in DC on Monday, April 20. They will walk through the streets of DC on Tuesday ending at a rally on the West Lawn of the Capital at 5:00 p.m.

The following day, the marchers will visit Capital Hill to deliver the Justice Package that consists of legislation which will end racial profiling, demilitarize our police forces, and shift juvenile justice away from institutionalization to prevention.

Some City Council Members will also join the marchers in DC.

Members of 1199 was out in full force at the rally in Staten Island, before the march began.
Photo by Tequila Minsky

More from Around NYC