Tuesday, January 20, 2015
About 1,200 people marched from Oakland to Downtown Monday night during a rally to "Reclaim MLK." They made their presence known with their numbers and their voices.
"I think the turnout tonight speaks to how united we are," said the Rev. Shanea Leonard. "It's excellent to see so many people here."
The marchers were unified by many causes: fighting against police brutality, capitalism and wars abroad. But a common thread in each of their causes was a call for racial justice.
"We'very been focused on the wars overseas. But there's a war raging against people of color in the United States," said Pete Shell from the Thomas Merton Center whose organization opposes the war in Iraq. "It's really important for us to join forces in the anti-war movement."
Along the 3-mile walk, demonstrators ranged in age from young children to senior citizens.
"I'm here with my wife and daughter. It's important for us as a family to support these causes," said Paul Spradley. "I want my daughter to be an activist but hopefully by the time she's older we won't have these problems."
At the conclusion of the march at the City County Building, the group We Change Pittsburgh — the event's organizers — also celebrated the victories they've had over the past year in their struggle for racial justice.
Earlier in 2014, they demanded Pittsburgh Police Officer David Derbish, the officer who shot and paralyzed Leon Ford during a 2012 traffic stop , be placed on desk duty. In late December their demands were met when police Chief Cameron McLay announced he had placed Derbish on desk duty.
"We are tired. We are sad. We are broken," said rally organizer Julia Johnson. "But we are resilent. We are strong."
Glenn Grayson Jr. was having dinner with his family when he heard the marchers coming through the Hill District. He and his family went out to join them and marched to the City County building where the rally concluded.
"I went to see Selma on Saturday and I realized we're still fighting the same issues," said Grayson. "The struggle isn't over and we have to continue to come together like this."