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Thousands of people marched from Freedom Plaza to the U.S. Capitol Saturday to protest police brutality in the United States. The “Justice for All” rally, organized by Rev. Al Sharpton‘s National Action Network, was one of a series of high-profile demonstrations that occurred throughout the country this weekend in the wake of two grand juries’ decisions to not indict police officers who killed unarmed black men—Ferguson, Mo., teen Michael Brown and Staten Island man Eric Garner—in separate incidents.
The demonstrators carried signs and alternated between a number of chants, including “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “Black lives matter,” and “I can’t breathe,”—-the last words that Garner spoke as a police officer performed an illegal choke hold on him on a public sidewalk.
The protest was peaceful with police officers blocking off the stretch of Pennsylvania Avenue NW between Freedom Plaza and the Capitol, redirecting traffic for the afternoon.
“It’s nice to have your voice heard in a peaceful environment,” says Chad Booker, who came to D.C. to participate in the rally from Alexandria.
About 400 people came to D.C. from Ferguson to protest. Lesley McFadden, Brown’s mother, and other victims’ families of police violence helped lead the rally.
The march culminated in speeches from Sharpton, Texas Congressman Al Green, the student body president from Howard University, and the families of Brown and Garner.
“We don’t come to Washington as the chokers and shooters,” Sharpton said as he stood in front of the Capitol building. “We come as the shot and choked asking you to deal with American citizens who can’t breathe in their own communities.”
As Sharpton noted, the rally drew a diverse group of participants spanning all ages and races.
“I feel inspired when I see white kids holding up signs saying “black lives matter.”
See photos from the rally below:
Photos by Perry Stein