February 26, 2015

 

Staff and Wire Report 

More than 1,000 enthusiastic advocates for  Black unity, peace and justice marched from Denker Ave. and King Blvd. to Leimert Park on Crenshaw Blvd on a cloudy Saturday morning Feb. 21st to bring hope to a plight that has gripped African Americans for years.

 

Determined, hopeful, participants of the historical MARCH commemorating the assassination of  Malcolm X, led by Sentinel Publisher Danny J. Bakewell and The Rev. Xavier Thompson rallied elected officials, community leaders and organizations which advocate for non-violence.

 

The four hour march, concluded with inspirational speeches before a capacity crowd at Leimert Park.

 

The MARCH integrated several elements, but the primary purpose was uniting the Black community to support and protect black lives.

 

“Literally our children and our futures lives depend upon it,” said Danny J. Bakewell Sr.

 

The MARCH came on the heels of the highly publicized, and fatal, shootings of several unarmed Black men including 25 year-old mentally ill Los Angeles resident, Ezell Ford.

 

Ford’s family were guests of Bakewell at the event and stood in support of the cause.

 

Ezell’s mother, Tritobia Ford, tearfully addressed the crowd, calling on her faith to help her get through the difficult time.

 

“I have no time for hate,” she cried.

 

Despite her heartache, she remained hopeful.

 

“I don’t believe that God allowed my son to be taken for nothing,” she said. “I know that there will be victory.” 

 

Chants for no justice, no peace boomed throughout the crowd during the marched as participants touted powerful messages under the darken skies.

 

Both African and American flags were waved high, as community members donned t-shirts with popular phrases such as “Black Lives Matter” and “I Can’t Breathe” printed across them.

 

Prominent clergy such as Rev. Thompson and Bishop Charles E. Blake were also in attendance, joining local politicians and celebrities such as legendary female rapper and now activist Yolanda ‘Yo-Yo’ Whitaker on the front lines in the fight for justice.

 

As participants made their way towards the Leimert Park, the sun finally broke through the clouds and the rally commenced. From there, leaders spoke about an urgent and immediate need for change, for the sake of the community.

 

“Parents of communities of color bear a terrible burden,” said LaMont G. Jackson, representative of the Los Angeles Community College District. “Action is long overdue to reform this broken system and the time is now.”

 

For many speakers, the march was also an opportunity to illustrate just how vital organization and leadership are to underrepresented communities.

 

“We can’t wait for a system that wasn’t built for us to respect us,” said Laphonza Butler, president of the Service Employees International Union of United Long Term Care Workers (ULTCW). “This is what leadership looks like,” she said.

 

The next steps of the movement.

 

Beyond the cries for justice and unity heard nationwide many community members, both Black and white, have expressed concerns over how to change the justice system for the better, and whether or not that’s even possible. 

 

“Most important is what happens after we march. If this is all we do then we just put on another show. It’s like a pep rally,” George McKenna, board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District.

 

McKenna acknowledged that the problematic relationship between police officers and the black community is a complicated one that will require an overhaul of existing policies and procedures, as well a shift in thinking.

 

“Not only do our lives matter but the procedures and the practices and the policies and the resources that are in this community must be focused on rescuing not only our children but rescuing the police officers from seeing us prey,” McKenna said.

 

“If the prey always looks like us, not only is that not fair, that’s unacceptable, it’s illegal,” he said.

 

Additionally, McKenna highlighted the importance of preparing and educating community members to make better choices in order to stay out of the criminal system.

 

“What we can do in the educational system is prepare our young people, to prevent them from being a part of the criminal justice system,” McKenna said.

 

For other leaders equality and justice were feasible goals.

 

“I absolutely believe that things are going to change,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.)

 

Bass called for the end of Stand Your Ground laws and indicated that the Congressional Black Caucus has introduced a number of pieces of legislation to improve community-police relations and provide equal justice to all.

Category: News


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