Sharpton Leads March on Justice Department

Posted: 02/11/2008 04:13 PM EST

Posted Nov. 16, 2007 -- Since the Department of Justice hasn’t come to the people, the Rev. Al Sharpton says he’s taking the people to the Department of Justice.

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"With the increased amount of hate crimes and hate signs – hanging nooses, swastikas – that have gone on around this country unaddressed … this Justice Department has been silent and absent," Sharpton said Tuesday in urging everyone interested in marching to show up in front of the D.C. headquarters at noon Friday for the two-hour protest. He said demonstrators will march around the building seven times.

Talking to a crowd of 200 or so people at First Baptist Church of North Brentwood, Sharpton recalled the many numerous incidents of racism perpetrated against African Americans in recent weeks.

Perhaps the most vivid display of prejudice, Sharpton says, was the drama leading up to the massive rally for equality in the small Louisiana town of Jena. In what has become known as the “Jena Six” case, thousands of mostly Black activists poured into Jena to protest the harsh prosecution of Black teens accused of beating a White classmate.

But racist acts didn’t end there, Sharpton notes, pointing to the emergence of nooses on high school and college campuses, military bases, construction sites and even on the hallowed site of Ground Zero in New York City.

Rather than using the force of the federal government to prosecute offenders, they throw enforcement of hate-crime laws back at the states, he said.

“Every time a states’ rights motto has been used, Black people have suffered,” he said. “The central U.S. government has an obligation to intervene in states and protect the civil rights of citizens against hate crimes.”

June White Dillard, president of the Prince George’s County chapter of the NAACP, told The Prince George’s County Gazette that all 22 Maryland chapters of the civil rights group would attend the march on Friday.

“It’s so important we let the Justice Department know we are so dissatisfied with how they are protecting our civil rights,” she said.

Others who say they will attend include civil rights leaders Martin Luther King III, comedian Steve Harvey, and radio hosts Michael Baisden and Warren Ballentine.

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