Hundreds of New Yorkers walked from Staten Island to Washington, D.C., earlier this month as part of the 250-mile “March2Justice.” Among them were a handful of participants from Bay Ridge.
The march, organized by the Justice League NYC, called for justice for victims of police brutality and an end to racial profiling. It culminated with the participants delivering a “Justice Package” of proposed legislation to Congress. Their demands were clear: end racial profiling, demilitarize local police forces, and invest more federal funding in youth programs—rather than police departments—to make communities of color safer.
Co-chairing the march was Bay Ridge resident and racial-justice advocate Linda Sarsour, who is a member of the Justice League NYC and the cofounder of Muslims4Ferguson. Sarsour and the rest of the team documented the action through social media, as mainstream media was largely radio-silent along the way.
Approximately 30 women from the Arab community in Bay Ridge traveled to Washington to complete the final leg of the march with Sarsour and the other participants. The group headed toward the West Lawn carrying signs that read, “Arab Americans Say Black Lives Matter,” while chanting “No Justice, No Peace!” along with the marchers.
Among the women was Zeinab Khalil, 24, who said it was important to participate in the march because the Arab community, having faced their own challenges with police, cannot afford to remain silent.
“These issues—ending police militarization, racial profiling, and incarceration of young people—are so pressing and felt in our community,” said Khalil, who is the Lead Organizer at the Arab American Association of New York, and a resident of Bay Ridge. “For our community to be passive perpetuates this problem and makes us complicit.”
On its way to Washington, the march made a point of traveling through cities affected by police violence in recent months. The group passed through western Baltimore on April 19th, where 25-year-old Freddie Gray had died in police custody just days before. Gray was unarmed and was chased down and arrested for allegedly making eye contact with a police officer and then running away.
Sarsour posted to Facebook a video of the marchers protesting outside the Western District Police Department in Belair, Maryland — the department responsible for Freddie Gray’s death.
“Our feet move where justice is needed,” she wrote.
The author is the Deputy Director of the Arab American Association of New York.
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