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New movement for people’s power

Published Apr 18, 2012 10:26 PM

March 26 protest.
WW photo: Sharon Black

The movement that began when thousands of people filled Baltimore’s streets on March 26 has taken its next steps by protesting at the site of the proposed youth jail on April 10 and marching to City Hall to continuing organizing for justice.

These actions were led by the newly formed Justice 4 Trayvon Martin, Maryland Local Organizing Committee.

The Rev. Cortly “C. D.” Witherspoon, Baltimore president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, proclaimed at this rally, “Trayvon Martin continues to be our North Star and a martyr for the modern-day struggle for freedom. What we accomplished on March 26 was much bigger than one protest. For one evening we shut down City Hall and downtown Baltimore, including the convention center and the circus.

“Through our sheer numbers and determination,” Witherspoon continued, “we proved what the power of the people can do. We do not intend to go back.”

Sharon Black, organizer with the All Peoples Congress and Occupy 4 Jobs Network, added, “We will continue, as we vowed from the steps of City Hall, to build a movement that will win justice for all the Trayvons of this country. Our next step will be to join the April 24 Rally at the Justice Department on Mumia Abu-Jamal’s birthday. We will also be forming a statewide response network that can come to the defense of the people. And young people must be the backbone of this effort.”

Organizers of the Baltimore effort pointed out that 56 percent of the state’s youth are unemployed and that racism and police abuse are rampant. To underscore this, the committee has been in touch with the family of a young man who was partially paralyzed in a police shooting in West Baltimore and also with the victims of a brutal police attack on a jobs protest in East Baltimore.

Committee members contend there is tremendous anger building from below due to rampant joblessness, racism, foreclosures and general poverty.

Witherspoon said, “The political establishments, both local and national, have proven to be bankrupt; they have done virtually nothing to protect or serve the people. It’s time for the people to organize themselves and to build people’s power. That’s part of what March 26 was about — the people rising up.”