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Activists Gather On Washington Mall To Protest Police Violence
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Activists Gather On Washington Mall To Protest Police Violence

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Activists Gather On Washington Mall To Protest Police Violence

Activists Gather On Washington Mall To Protest Police Violence
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Civil rights leaders and other activists are marching in Washington, D.C., following the shooting deaths of blacks by police officers. NPR's Scott Simon speaks to reporter Hansi Lo Wang on the scene.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The families of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Tamir Rice take center stage today in Washington, D.C. They will lead a march from near the White House to Capitol Hill to protest police violence, following a series of cases in which unarmed African-Americans have died after encounters with law enforcement. Demonstrations have continued around the country, more than a week since a grand jury's decision not to indict the officer involved in the death of Eric Garner in New York City. He died in police custody after that officer applied a chokehold. NPR's Hansi Lo Wang is covering today's march and joins us now. Hansi, thanks for being with us.

HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: And what's happening where you are right now?

WANG: Thank you, Scott.

SIMON: Hi, Hansi, can you hear me?

WANG: I'm here in Freedom Plaza. This is - I can hear you, Scott. Can you hear me OK?

SIMON: Yes, we can hear you just fine.

WANG: I'm at Freedom Plaza just blocks away from the White House. This is OK. We're blocks away from the White House. This is the starting point for the march, and I do see the protesters here with their picket signs. They're lining up, getting ready to march down Pennsylvania Avenue. Their destination is Capitol Hill. And before this morning earlier, I talked to two protesters to ask them why they came here. I talked to Renee Matthews (ph) from New Jersey, and this is what she said.

RENEE MATTHEWS: The violence against people of color has to stop. I don't care how many marches it is, I'll be there.

WANG: I also talked to Paul Banister (ph). He's a white Vietnam vet. One of the first people to arrive here from upstate New York, and here's what he told me.

PAUL BANISTER: I'm not really proud of what we've done to minorities in this country. And we're supposed to be a free nation. And we're not, obviously. And that's why we're here today.

SIMON: Hansi, what do protesters want to be able to accomplish today?

WANG: Well, once they end up at Capitol Hill - near Capitol Hill - this morning, they're going to have a series of speeches where organizers are going to outline a legislative agenda. They hope to call Congress to pass new laws that will prevent future incidents from happening. And also laws that will allow families of victims to pursue justice - to have more avenues to pursue justice at local and federal level. But also today - just being in the crowd today - I get a sense that for a lot of protesters, this is a cathartic moment. This march is coming after more than a week of protests we've seen around the country after the Eric Garner decision. And also months after the Ferguson incident began. And so one protester we saw, tears were streaming down her face as she was holding the hands of her two young sons. Her name's Kia Brock (ph), from Maryland. Let's take a listen to her voice.

KIA BROCK: (Chanting) No justice.

CROWD: (Chanting) No peace.

BROCK: (Chanting) No more.

CROWD: (Chanting) No more.

BROCK: (Chanting) No more.

CROWD: (Chanting) No more.

BROCK: (Chanting) No more.

CROWD: (Chanting) No more.

WANG: Just the emotion in her voice really just stopped me in my tracks in a very large crowd. She said that she hopes her two young sons will grow up to become men one day, and they will never have to go to a march or protest in the aftermath shootings of young black men.

SIMON: NPR's Hansi Lo Wang is joining us from the Justice For All march and (inaudible) in Washington, D.C. It seems to me like we have some technical problems. Hansi Lo Wang, thanks very much for being us.

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