Several thousand people march in Washington to demand racial justice in the US days after professional athletes across the nation challenged President Donald Trump’s derogatory remarks against players that sat down during the national anthem to protest police brutality against African-Americans.
The Saturday protest rally came as the country was facing a period of growing racial tensions amid an escalating active presence of white supremacist groups that led to the death of an anti-racist protester in August and several violent confrontations between demonstrators from opposing sides.
Activists with the March for Black Women also joined the protest at downtown’s massive Lincoln Park near government buildings, with African-American and indigenous women leading the way to the US Congress.
The protest was timed to commemorate the anniversary of the Elaine Massacre of 1919 in Arkansas. Between 100 and 240 African-Americans were killed in riots after a group of black farmers tried to create a union — but only black people involved faced criminal proceedings.
Several recent legal cases involving police killings of unarmed black suspects have fueled growing concerns that the US justice system remains adversarial toward the African-American community.
This is while the US Justice Department announced on September 12 that it would not bring federal charges against six police officers in Baltimore as part of a probe into the death of African-American teenager Freddie Gray, who was fatally injured in a police van in 2015.
Moreover, a judge in St Louis, Missouri, acquitted on September 15 a white police officer accused of fatally shooting Anthony Lamar Smith, a black man, following a 2011 police chase — leading to violent protests.
Meanwhile, an opinion poll published on Friday by CBS News highlighted the increasing polarization within the US. It found that 52 percent of Americans disapprove of athletes staging protests during the national anthem — but they also do not like Trump’s handling of the issue.