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Busload of Adults Travel To D.C. For Rally As Young Take Charleston Streets
12/17/2014 4:08:58 PM

National Action Network Tri-County Chapter President Elder Johnson with mother of Michael Brown, Lesley McSpadden, at March Against Violence Dec. 13.
By Barney Blakeney

Some 25,000 participants converged at the Capitol in Washington, D.C. Dec. 13 in a national protest against police violence co-ordinated by the National Action Network. A busload of participants from Charleston attended the protest march and rally. Simultaneously a contingent of youthful protesters in Charleston staged a local march and rally.

The International Longshoremen Association union Local 1422 sponsored a bus traveling to the Washington march. Organizers said only some 51 participants boarded the bus in Charleston though others were expected to travel independently.

Local labor organizer Leonard Riley said he was a little disappointed at the absence of greater participation from the local community, especially at such a compelling time when police violence against Blacks is striking the nerves of so many fair-minded people.

“When we’re witnessing the death of a 12-year-old Black boy shot by an Ohio policeman, there definitely is a reason to participate in any protest. Going to Washington forces people to look at our legislators, people we vote into office and the policies that capture the whole flavor of the protests being expressed,” he said.

Elder James Johnson, president of the Tri-County chapter of the National Action Network said the organization’s national leadership asked its 38 local affiliates to bring protesters to the march which began at Freedom Circle in Washington and proceeded to the nation’s Capitol building. Only about 20,000 participants were anticipated, but the number of participants swelled to about 30,000, Johnson said.

The Tri-County chapter’s youth contingent participated in a simultaneous local march and rally that began at Mall Park on the Eastside’s Columbus Street and proceeded through downtown to the U.S. Courthouse at Meeting and Broad streets.

Sadara Shine, an organizer for the local NAN chapter’s youth contingent, said some 25 youthful individuals representing various groups co-ordinated the march and rally that ultimately drew over 150 participants. Other participants joined the march as it proceeded through the city.

“Young people think it’s important that they are involved and say that Black lives matter. Obviously, it’s our future and we’re going to have to pick up where the present generation leaves off. We’re going to be the next generation of policemen, city councilmen, legislators and mayors and we want a safe environment for our children. It’s our responsibility and we’re going to have to take charge,” she said.

Shine said support for the movement among young people has been tremendous and is crossing all socio-economic and racial boundaries. Youth groups are meeting to develop strategies that will impact their future, she said.

“We’re letting young people know their input matters and we’re reaching out to our brothers and sisters, the book smart and the street smart working co-operatively. This is just the beginning,” she said.

Johnson also called the events since grand juries failed to indict officers in the deaths of Black men in Missouri and New York the start of a movement. He said organizers will continue to meet to develop and agenda for the upcoming year.

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