Civil Rights Leaders Repeat Call for March
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
A group of national civil rights leaders came to Washington yesterday to reiterate calls for a massive march next week on the Justice Department to protest what they said was the federal government's failure to prosecute hate crimes.
Headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton and Martin Luther King III, the son of the legendary civil rights leader, the group said the march will start at noon Nov. 16 and proceed seven times around the department's headquarters, at Ninth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue NW.
The march was announced last month in Atlanta.
"It is our feeling that 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 . . . on the cases of civil rights in our times," Sharpton said.
"It is almost unthinkable that in a year dominated by race and bias . . . that the Justice Department has not taken one overt action . . . to address the growing polarization and the growing levels of hate demonstrated in this country," he added.
The two spoke at the National Press Club along with D.C. Council members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and Harry Thomas Jr. (D-Ward 5), and several other local and national leaders and clergymen.
Justice Department spokesman Erik Ablin issued a statement saying that officials remain "deeply committed to the vigorous enforcement of our nation's civil rights laws. . . . Last year, the Department convicted the largest number of defendants for civil rights violations ever in the history of the Department."