Newark activists invoke King's legacy at rally decrying police brutality, urban violence

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on January 19, 2015

People's Organization for Progress member Amimifu Williams awaits the start of the rally by the Lincoln Monument near the corner of Springfield Avenue and Market Street in Newark

 

NEWARK — Dozens of activists and other Newark-area residents gathered this afternoon to honor the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and protest police brutality and urban violence — which they characterized as the latest chapter in the fight for civil rights he began decades ago.

People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Lawrence Hamm began the brief rally in front of the Lincoln Monument in downtown Newark by telling the roughly 60 attendees that they were carrying on the civil rights icon’s work.

“We know if Dr. King was alive, he’d be on a picket line somewhere,” he said.

Like at many recent rallies held in Newark, Hamm and other speakers decried police brutality in New Jersey and other parts of the country.

He cited high-profile cases like those in Ferguson, Mo. and Staten Island, but also invited three New Jersey mothers who lost their sons during altercations with New Jersey police in the last two years to address the crowd.

Cecille Hepburn, whose son Kashad Ashford was shot and killed by officers in Lyndhurst in September, urged the attendees to continue to pursue justice for all people, regardless of color or economic status.

“This is what Martin Luther King was about….the injustice to all people,” she said.

Other speakers addressed the violence that plagues Newark and other inner cities around the country, saying crimes committed by members of the community should be met with as much outrage as lives lost at the hands of law enforcement.

“People always say ‘You don’t get upset when it’s happening in your own community.’ Well, we do,” said Bill Davis, Chairman of the POP’s Central Jersey Chapter. “It’s up to us, to value ourselves.”

The brief rally concluded with a police-escorted march through downtown to the corner of Market Street and Broad Street. Before they left, however, participants were encouraged that while their numbers were relatively small, their efforts might still be looked at fondly by King and other civil rights heroes.

“The movement is a process, it’s not an event,” said Keshia Eure, chairwoman of the Newark Anti-Violence Coalition.

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