The Americans on Monday thronged the streets across the United States to pay tributes to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. amid protests over the treatment of minorities in the country by the law enforcement officials.
The observers of Martin Luther King Jr. Day have linked this year’s federal holiday with a rallying cry during several protests in the recent months over the police brutality against the minorities.
Over 40 people gathered at the home of Mayor Libby Schaaf in a pre-dawn rally on Monday in Oakland, California in demand for harsher punishment for the law enforcement officials who use violence against the civilians. They also drew outlines of bodies on the tree-lined street and projected King’s image while playing recordings of speeches of the slain civil rights leader with the words “Black lives matter,” at the garage door of the mayor.
The protesters also held demonstrations in other major cities like Dallas and New York, where a young boy Eric Garner had died after being placed in a police chokehold.
Last few months have witnessed many protests and demonstrations over the deaths of Garner and another unarmed black man Michael Brown, who was shot dead by a white cop in Ferguson, Missouri. The protests also turned violent on several occasions, especially when the grand juries turned down the decision to indict the police officers in the deaths of the black men.
The sentiment resounded even at traditional events honoring King that were under way elsewhere, including a King commemoration at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where King once preached.
“We all need to remember him this day because we still don’t have complete freedom. Look at what they’re doing to the voting rights. Look at Ferguson and those other places. Black people and poor people are still treated differently,” said 50-year-old Kelly Pongee, of Jonesboro, Georgia, who was among hundreds of people who were waiting for their turn to attend the service.
Another churchgoer Arthur Williams, a 60-year-old man from Atlanta, said that King was just like a guiding light in the ongoing efforts for bringing equality for minorities in the country.
“The struggle hasn’t stopped. Even with a black president in the White House, people of my hue are still the recipients of injustices,” Williams said.
Actor David Oyelowo was one of the featured speakers at the church event that was organized a day before the children of King headed to court in a legal tussle over his Bible and Nobel Peace Prize medal. Oyelowo portrays King in a new flick called “Selma”.