Hundreds protest police brutality at Newark rally

By Vernal Coleman | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on July 26, 2015

Families of victims of police brutality speak at a rally and march organized by the People's Organization for Progress in Newark.

 

NEWARK – Activists from across the region united in downtown Newark Saturday in protest of the death of Sandra Bland, the Chicago woman who died while in police custody following her arrest by a Texas law enforcement officer, and others fatally shot by police.

Organized by the Newark People's Organization for Progress (POP), the Million People's March for Justice drew hundreds to the Lincoln Monument, who stood and listened as speakers-- many of them relatives of area men killed in incidents with law enforcement officers--urged the public to fight back.

"Our message today is simple," said POP chairman Lawrence Hamm. "Stop killing us." Hamm, who gave the first in a series of fiery speeches, called for an end to what he called the police violation of constitutional rights and "the pandemic of police brutality."

He was followed on stage by the relatives of Abdul Kamal, Kashad Ashford and Jerame Reid, black men who were fatally shot by N.J. police.

Kamal was shot in 2013 by Irvington police; Ashford was shot after a car chase with police in 2014; and police shot Reid at a traffic stop in January.

Others activists followed, including Amina Baraka, mother to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, and Dr. Cornel West.

West called for greater participation in a movement against racial and economic inequality. "If you're not wiling to come together for poor and oppressed, than you deserve to be criticized," he said.

The rally took place near the Lincoln Monument, and continued as the gathered crowd began a slow march from the monument's steps to the Peter W. Rodino, Jr. Federal Office Building on Broad Street.

Hamm said the group wanted to hold the event in Newark this month partially in remembrance of the 1967 Newark riots against racial profiling and economic inequality.

West urged the gathered attendees to embody the spirit of the 1967 "uprising" as they marched. The work of the uprising continues, he said.

"Fifty years later and we're still dealing with the legacy of white supremacy and inequality," he said. "Something ain't right."

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