On the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, the people of Newark, N.J., took to the streets in a spirited march and rally, called by the People’s Organization for Progress. Last week, Newark airport workers, organized by SEIU 32BJ demonstrated for higher wages and to demand the MLK holiday.
“We are taking a stand and we’re not stopping,” said Cecile Hepburn, grandmother of Kashad Ashford, who was murdered by police while unconscious after a car crash in September last year in neighboring Bergen County.
The march highlighted the demands and vision of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and tied these to today’s struggle against racist police brutality unfolding in Newark, N.J., and cities and towns around the country.
Marching up front was Michele Kamal, mother of Abdul Kamal, who was murdered by Irvington, N.J., police in October 2013. A grand jury is expected to make a decision on the indictment of the three Irvington cops who murdered Abdul, and an emergency response demonstration is planned.
“Today’s march was important to me to express my voice. We need to get together, to bond together—like the way Martin Luther King made it. The march was a good thing to have. I watched him march on television, and now it made me feel good to be part of this march,” said Shelia Reid, mother of Jerome Reid, murdered right before New Year’s in Bridgeton in South Jersey during a traffic stop. Sean Reid, Jerome’s brother, was also among the marchers.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Day event was more than a coming together of those engaged in the struggle for justice in Northern New Jersey.
“We are here to announce the Million People’s March here in Newark on July 25 this summer,” said Larry Hamm, chairman of the People’s Organization for Progress.
The POP recently brought together over 200 organizers to begin the initial stages for the organizing of this mass march against police violence.
“Police brutality is not an isolated problem. It is a historical problem with roots that are deep in the social fabric of this country. It must be seen within the broader context of racial and economic injustice and inequality,” said Hamm in the initial call for the MPM.