About 50,000 people are expected at the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March in Washington, D.C., on Friday, planned months ago to coincide with the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The headline speakers, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, are scheduled to take the stage at 11 a.m., but people were waiting in line before 8 a.m. for temperature and registration checks. Black mothers who said they lost sons to police brutality were the first in line, The Washington Post reports.
The rally, on the Washington Mall, will also feature speeches by the families of Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Eric Garner. After the speeches, attendees will march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. The organizers originally expected 100,000 people to attend, but they scaled back their projections citing chartered busses canceled due to COVID-19 issues.
Sharpton and other organizers started planning the march after the funeral for Floyd, killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck fo nine minutes. “The reason why George Floyd laying there with that knee on his neck resonated with so many African Americans is because we have all had a knee on our neck,” Sharpton told USA Today. “What we are saying is that these two laws represent taking some of the knee off but the systemic racism is going to take more than two laws.”
One group of about two dozen people marched to Washington from Milwaukee starting on Aug. 4, long before police in nearby Kenosha shot Blake in the back seven times. One of the Milwaukee organizers, Tory Lowe, told USA Today they had been greeted warmly, harassed with racial slurs, arrested, and shot at during their 750-mile walk, but the Blake shooting just “brings validation to the fact of why we ever started this march in the first place.” Peter Weber