Sharpton, Marchers Say Justice Department Must Live up to its Name

Thousands of people responded Friday to Rev. Al Sharpton’s call to march to the U.S. Justice Department to demand that the federal government assert its power when states feebly respond to hate crimes or enforce the law unequally.

Martin Luther King III, borrowed words from his father to rev up the crowd that had been outdoors in 40-degree weather for hours. “An injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” King said.

King’s theme was echoed by people in the crowd. Outrage over the “Jena Six” case in Louisiana motivated some of the marchers, while others drew attention to cases in Georgia, New York, North Carolina and elsewhere that they said were examples of African Americans being treated unfairly by the justice system.

“My sign says ‘Justice is Equal. Justice is Right,” said Taylor Williams, a 12-year-old girl from Laurel, Md. “I missed school today and came with my mother and my friends because I felt that equal rights should be for everybody, it shouldn’t matter what’s on the outside.”

Agnes Trice, a Washington resident, said she came to the march for the sake of her children. “This is my lunch hour, but I came because I’m sick of all the nooses… I’m Filipino but my children are black and I don’t want them to experience that.”

Nationally syndicated radio host Tom Joyner broadcast live from the march. In addition to Sharpton and King, speakers at the rally and march included radio personalities Warren Ballantine, and Steve Harvey, and TV judge Greg Mathis.

“I know I joke around a lot on TV, but injustice is a serious matter,” said Mathis. Mathis ignited the passion of the protesters when he compared the Jena Six case to the case of a white juvenile who went unpunished after starting a California fire that destroyed thousands of acres and numerous homes.

(Contact the writer at lendorawashington@hotmail.com)