RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
History will repeat itself today. 57 years ago, hundreds of thousands of people filled the National Mall for the March on Washington. Martin Luther King Jr. made his "I Have A Dream" speech. The demonstrators were calling for equal rights and fair treatment under the law. Today, it is happening again, another march on Washington with some of the same demands. Among those demonstrating, families of recent victims of police brutality.
Civil rights lawyer Ben Crump knows many of them. He has represented the families of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and now Jacob Blake, the Black man shot multiple times and severely wounded by police in Kenosha, Wis. Blake is currently paralyzed from the waist down according to Crump, who talked to us on the phone to give us this update.
BEN CRUMP: He's in stable condition, still in intensive care. They're still trying to remove bullet fragments from around his spinal cord.
MARTIN: Can you confirm the details of the scenario in which Mr. Blake was shot?
CRUMP: You don't have to look further than the video. In the video, you see that he never posed a threat to the officers as he tries to walk away from them and get in the automobile to get his three little boys out of a volatile situation. They were sitting in the back seat. Their ages are 8 years old, 5 years old and 3 years old. And they witnessed their father practically murdered in front of them. These little boys will have these psychological issues for the rest of their lives from this horrific incident. His 8-year-old son was celebrating his birthday that day. So we can only imagine what his birthday would be like from years to come.
MARTIN: In your conversations with Jacob Blake, do you have any sense from him as to why, at any point, he didn't raise his hands, if he ever made any kind of physical or verbal indication of surrender?
CRUMP: You know, ma'am, we won't go into these tactics by law enforcement to try to justify the unjustifiable. All you have to do is look at that video. Every aspect of that video shows him struggling to get away from law enforcement. Why does a Black man who shoots nobody, poses a threat to nobody - when he's shot in the back seven times, we have to explain everything. But when a young white man shoots and kills people and he can walk by the police and nobody shoot him in the back.
MARTIN: We should just clarify, this is a 17-year-old who has been arrested for allegedly shooting and killing two protesters in Kenosha, protesters who were out there demonstrating against police brutality after Jacob Blake's shooting. May I ask - you have primarily represented the families of Black women, men, boys who were killed by law enforcement officers. In this case, Jacob Blake is alive, though, in serious condition. What is the ideal outcome in this case for you, for him?
CRUMP: Well, certainly, as with all these tragedies, you want accountability because we can't get justice. Justice would be George Floyd being able to take another breath today. Justice would be Breonna Taylor still being here. Justice would be Ahmaud Arbery still being here. So the only thing we can hope for right now is accountability, that these people will be held accountable for the crimes that they have committed against Black people in America even though they swore to protect and serve them. And the problem isn't de-escalation. The problem is racism.
MARTIN: If I may - you are joined on the line by Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's brother. Philonise, how have you been watching what's happened in Kenosha? The shooting of Jacob Blake and the protests in Kenosha, how have you been absorbing all of that?
PHILONISE FLOYD: Oh, man. It's painful just sitting there watching it, just thinking about everything that we have marched for. Jacob Blake, it's like, he's going to be paralyzed from being shot in his back by, yet again, police officer, you know, while his children, they couldn't do anything. They just watched him being, like, shot in front of them like that. That's a painful thing knowing that, like, these people are trained, like, trained professionals that are supposed to serve and protect. How could you sit down and watch that? Like, when police officers - they just won't stop killing us, man.
MARTIN: The March on Washington in 1963. Obviously, now we are so many decades later. An anniversary march is scheduled for today. There will be family members there of Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor, obviously, your family, the Floyd family. How will this march - how will it be different than that original march in 1963?
FLOYD: This march, I guess, basically, it's all the same. We're all here. We're all working together. We're stronger in numbers. But the things that's going on, the senseless killings and stuff, they have not stopped. I'm just thinking about the other families that's going to be there. You know, we don't want to see nobody else hurt. It's a lot of pain. And we're hurting inside and outside. You can't see the inside. But you can see what's going on on the outside.
MARTIN: Mr. Crump, what will this march mean?
CRUMP: This march will mean renewing our commitment to make sure that people know we can have a more just society where George Floyd does have a opportunity to take a breath, Breonna Taylor does have an opportunity to sleep in peace, Ahmaud Arbery does have an opportunity to run free and not be lynched in 2020, where Jacob Blake Jr. has the opportunity to enjoy his son's birthday without being shot in the back seven times. And so we come to Washington, D.C., to declare our commitment to what? The Constitution says life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
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MARTIN: That was civil rights attorney Ben Crump alongside Philonise Floyd, younger brother of George Floyd.
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