Thousands of protesters gathered Friday at the Lincoln Memorial to call for overall criminal justice restructuring and racial equality while honoring the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” address from the same location.

Planning began in June after the funeral of George Floyd. Organizers said they wanted to highlight the civil rights issues of today and bring well-known speakers to address the crowd while also mitigating the spread of the novel coronavirus with strict safety protocols.

The march — dubbed the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March on Washington — began with speeches from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, which was followed by a coordinated march to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in West Potomac Park.

Here are some significant developments:
  • As the Rev. Al Sharpton took the podium, an area kept socially distanced since 7 a.m. became crowded with protesters who held up their phones to record his speech.
  • Martin Luther King III followed his young daughter by saying that while this march marks the anniversary of his father’s famous American Dream, “We must never forget the American nightmare.”
  • The memory of late civil rights icon John Lewis loomed large, his influence palpable in almost every corner of the demonstration. It was rare for a speech to end without an ode to the late congressman or a reference to his iconic quote about “good trouble.”
  • Joined by other members of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Ohio) called on Congress to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which bans police officers from using chokeholds and no-knock warrants. The bill has already passed the House.
August 28, 2020 at 9:39 PM EDT
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The live blog is closed

By Tom Jackman

Please follow The Post’s continuing coverage of the March on Washington here.

August 28, 2020 at 9:31 PM EDT
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Rain leaves few protesters at BLM Plaza

By Justin Wm. Moyer

By 9:15 p.m., the rain had driven all but a few protesters from Black Lives Matter Plaza. Those who remained shouted at police guarding St. John’s Episcopal Church, yelling familiar slogans like “Quit your job!” and “Hands up, don’t shoot!”

One woman shouted that the crowd should change the slogan to a new one: “Hands up, shoot back!”

Months of protest had brought no change, she said.

“We’ve been out here doing the same things!” she said. “I’ll be the first one to say it!”

Beneath construction scaffolding near 15 and H streets, a young man lay passed out. Protesters passed him, eyeing him uneasily.

“We should try to get him out of the rain,” one said.

“Is there a blanket?” asked another.

A woman walked to him and placed a “Defund the Police” sign on his legs, where drips from the scaffolding above were falling. Another protester brought him a Gatorade.

“Put it where someone won’t take it!” one said.

So the protester placed the Gatorade between the man’s arms before the group walked on.

August 28, 2020 at 9:10 PM EDT
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Long day of marching ends with emotion outside the African American museum

By Michael Miller and Michael Brice-Saddler

As night fell, a group of around 200 protesters who had shut down Interstate 395 and scuffled with police officers on South Capitol Street ended their hours-long march in front of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Drenched and exhausted, they gathered in the middle of the street, again blocking traffic.

“I want my 40 acres and a mule,” Kevin Cramer, a 25-year-old consultant and one of the march organizers said into a microphone.

Black people had every right to protest given their role in American history, he said.

“If I built it,” he said, “I can burn it down.”

Next up was Bethlehem Yirga, a teacher at Elliot-Hine Middle School in the District, who apologized to the crowd for being hoarse.

“I lost my voice,” she said, but continued, even as tears began to fall down her face.

Yirga, 35, said she’d lost 27 students to gun violence in 10 years. Little seemed to be changing.

“When did this go up, someone fact-check me,” she said pointing to the gleaming museum.

“2015,” a woman in the crowd said, mistakenly, of the museum that opened a year later.

“We built this country on our backs and we got that museum in 2015,” Yirga said. Yirga wept as she pleaded for her 3-year-old daughter not to have to grow into the same conditions as she did.

“She should not have to live this life,” Yirga said, tears continuing to stream down her face. “Why do we have to do this? Why do we have to do this?”

Cramer concluded the march with a prayer. And they drifted off into the darkness, but not before making plans to protest again the next day.

August 28, 2020 at 8:15 PM EDT
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Protesters splinter throughout the city as storms pass and night falls

By Michael Miller, Rebecca Tan and Michael Brice-Saddler

After a day of peaceful marches and speeches on the Mall, smaller pockets of protesters and demonstrators remained scattered throughout downtown Washington. As night fell and torrential rains passed, splinter groups spread out through the city, blocked traffic, yelled at police and continued to demand social justice.

Groups at the Wharf in Southwest Washington blocked cars around 7 p.m., with some trying to get a driver out to march with them. Shortly later, about 200 protesters started walking on a ramp onto Interstate 395 before police on bikes followed. A brief standoff ensued, including what appeared to be a demonstrator pushing an officer. The group blocked the interstate before leaving.

At Black Lives Matter Plaza, a small burst of tension sparked just before 8 p.m., with a handful of rowdy protesters yelling at police outside St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Other groups continued to remain peaceful, including about 150 demonstrators listening to impassioned speeches near the National Museum of African American History and Culture later in the evening.

Some said they planned to regroup at Black Lives Matter Plaza and Freedom Plaza later in the night for more rallies.

August 28, 2020 at 7:30 PM EDT
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He was in the 5th grade when MLK was killed. Today, he came to D.C. to watch history in the making.

By Marissa Lang

Greg Mills was sitting in class on that April day in 1968, halfway through his lessons, when his fifth-grade teacher abruptly stopped teaching and sent the kids home. School officials in Greensboro, N.C., didn’t explain why, but his mother did: The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed, and riots had begun downtown.

“She came running up to us and said, ‘There’s trouble in the streets, get home!’” Mills recalled Friday, sitting outside the World War II Memorial. He displayed a painting he made for the march.

“People were so angry,” he said. “They didn’t feel heard. Just like today.”

On Friday, he stood next to his creation, fist raised, repeating the Toni Morrison quote depicted on the brightly painted piece to passersby: “The function of freedom is to free someone else.”

As streams of protesters made their way back from hours of speeches at the Lincoln Memorial, several stopped to snap pictures and marvel at the work. Mills began painting it, he said, the day the Rev. Al Sharpton announced the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” march. Thursday night, he bent over the piece in his home in Harlem, coloring in letters, putting on the finishing touches.

“It’s supposed to be provocative,” Mills said. “To make people stop and think.”

He later migrated north, landing in upper Manhattan. Earlier this year, he was one of several New Yorkers drafted to paint the words “Black Lives Matter” on a Harlem street. How far that moment felt from the reality of the little boy he had been, attending a segregated school in a Southern city.

Friday’s march, Mills said, felt to him like another step forward.

“We have to be like termites — keep at it until the foundation propping all this inequality up starts to crumble,” he said.

Though he wasn’t able to get inside the buffer to see the speakers up close, he said, he listened to their voices carry over the Mall and found comfort in watching the waves of young people wander in and out.

“They’re the ones who will carry on,” Mills said. “It means so much for me to see that. It feels like we can almost exhale.”

August 28, 2020 at 7:21 PM EDT
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In the downpour, cops and demonstrators caught under the same overpass

By Michael Miller

When the skies opened up at around 6 p.m., a group of about 400 marchers heading south on 12th Street scrambled to take cover under the closest place available: the Interstate 395 overpass.

As heavy rains came down, the marchers began to chant, sing and dance — a few of them skipping in the rain, with their hands to the heavens — as others strummed guitars or banged on drums and frying pans. It was a carnival atmosphere, as a few marchers lit marijuana cigarettes and others ate snacks from dollies protesters had pushed across town.

One young male protester with a megaphone began spray-painting anti-police messages on the tile walls.

At the other end of the tunnel, about 50 yards away, a dozen police officers watched, the two groups equally immobilized by the downpour.

As the man spray-painted, drawing the gaze of the officers, some protesters called for those with bikes to block the officers’ view.

In the no-man’s land between the two groups, strange stragglers meandered: a man with a pillow under his shirt and a pig mask that he lifted just long enough to emit pungent smoke, and an older man who was following the group but took offense at a marcher’s passionate call to defund police.

“I don’t think I agree with what he said,” the older man said.

At around 6:30, the clouds parted and the demonstrators started walking again — the bike officers not far behind.

August 28, 2020 at 7:10 PM EDT
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Coast to coast, protester sees differences

By Justin Wm. Moyer

Sheltering from the storm on the National Archives colonnade, Jaylen Welch, 18, reflected on the year he’s had. When he started his senior year of high school in Gresham, Ore., a Portland suburb, he never imagined he’d witness violent protests there — then fly to D.C. for a historic march just days before he starts his freshman year at a community college.

Protesting has become a “hobby,” he said.

“Even when I’m not protesting, I’m behind the scenes,” he said. “It’s already opened doors.”

Though he came from a city that’s seen startling clashes between police, antifa and white nationalists, Welch was impressed with D.C.’s protest game. One major thing was different: Black people. Not just Black people protesting, but Black police officers.

Where he’s from, cops don’t look like him.

“There are more Black police officers here than I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said. Of protesters, he added: “They’re driven. I feel they’re out for the cause. Black lives matter to them.”

When the rain stopped, Welch walked down the stairs of the Archives into the street. The group he was with had attempted to block the Ninth Street tunnel but had been foiled by rain. But tonight, protesters were gathering at Black Lives Matter Plaza at 11 p.m., and he said he would be there to see what happens.

August 28, 2020 at 7:05 PM EDT
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Visitors from Dayton, Ohio, offer to support protesters as they shut down highway

By Marissa Lang

Just before protesters turned down the Whitehurst Freeway, a mom and her two grown daughters from Dayton, Ohio, leaned over the concrete barricade and called out to the marchers.

“Does anyone need a med kit?” the women asked.

Brittany King, 30, Kristen King, 36, and Patti King, 64, all White, and still wearing neon-green wristbands from events earlier in the day, said they had brought the medical supplies just in case.

“I mean, we watch the news,” Brittany quipped.

“We know what’s been going on,” Kristen added.

The march, they said, was powerful, peaceful and inspiring.

At the event, billed as a “commitment march” meant to underscore participants’ dedication to racial justice and criminal justice reform, the King family said it made them feel like they had more work to do. So when they happened upon a group of black-clad demonstrators chanting, “It’s a revolution,” they wanted to help.

Though they admitted they preferred the tenor of the Rev. Al Sharpton’s march, Brittany King said, they supported the protesters doing “what they feel is necessary” to push for systemic change and racial equality.

“We can do more,” Kristen said. “We have to do more to make sure things change.”

“We will,” her mother said, nodding.

As the group began to march down the ramp onto the highway, the women waved before continuing on their way.

August 28, 2020 at 6:52 PM EDT
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Bored after blocking bridge, women find a way to entertain themselves

By Jessica Contrera

Bored and restless waiting for the storm to pass, a few women within the group of protesters that blocked the Key Bridge came up with an idea.

A police cruiser appeared to be watching them from across the street in Washington Circle.

Three women took off their shoes, then leaped out into the road, dancing in the rain. They pirouetted toward the parked officer, then stopped in front of his car.

All at once, they lifted their shirts, exposing their breasts. Behind them, protesters cheered. The reaction of the officer inside the vehicle could not be seen.

August 28, 2020 at 6:40 PM EDT
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‘Y’all are on the side of history’

By Michael Miller

As dark clouds gathered overhead, a group of about 250 marched past the Trump International Hotel, chanting at police gathered there, “You are gonna lose your job.”

Later the marchers reached the Mall, where they were joined by about 100 more protesters.

Lightning flickered across the sky to the east over the Washington Monument, when Ty Hobson-Powell took the megaphone.

“They will tell you that what we are doing now is un-American, the right-wing pundits. But the Boston Tea Party was the same thing: standing for what’s right. I look out at the crowd and see people, old and young, and y’all are on the side of history,” said the 25-year-old organizer with Concerned Citizens of D.C., who works for the University of the District of Columbia.

“I want you to know history will remember you all as patriots.”

As rain began to fall, reporters and marchers stood beneath a large metal wind chime art installation related to the history of slavery.

“This is not where you want to be,” said a protest medic, noting the lightning.

As the group continued north from the Mall, a young White woman with a black T-shirt over her face knelt to spray-paint on a highway overpass. A group of 20 bike police officers nearby didn’t notice.

“We have nothing to lose but our chains,” she wrote hurriedly, the blood-red paint dripping down toward the ground.

August 28, 2020 at 6:31 PM EDT
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Outside the White House, activists in orange jumpsuits push for prison reform

By Meagan Flynn and Katie Mettler

They marched in orange jumpsuits with cuffs on their wrists and bags over their heads, representing a group of incarcerated men who they say have endured prolonged solitary confinement in prison.

And as they marched through Black Lives Matter Plaza, they sang.

“Mama, Mama, can’t you see what this prison’s done to me?”

The activists, led by the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) in D.C. and including a daughter whose father was in prison, settled outside the White House. They stood in silent protest for a moment as one held a sign that said, “End Prison Slavery.”

They had come to call for the release of 16 men who they said have been in solitary confinement since they were accused of participating in a prison uprising at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center in Smyrna, Del., in which one correctional officer was killed. One man was convicted of murder while others faced lesser charges or were acquitted.

As the 16 people in orange jumpsuits lined up in front of the White House, Qiana Johnson, the executive director of Life After Release, an organization in Prince George’s County, Md., spoke through a megaphone.

“I am a formerly incarcerated Black woman in America,” she said, speaking passionately about what she called injustices from prosecutors and judges that lead to mass incarceration. “Just because it isn’t you doesn’t mean it can’t be you,” Johnson said. “Until we get that mind-set together we will always be in a mental cage.”

Johnson, who is also a court organizer with BLM DC, spoke about the disparity she sees between how the criminal justice system treats young Black people compared with young White people.

She used Kyle Rittenhouse, the White 17-year-old charged with fatally shooting two demonstrators in Wisconsin, as an example.

“If it was my son,” she said, the police “would have put five bullets in his back. Trust that.”

Fariha Huriya, a 31-year-old IWOC activist, said the prisoners would not have believed three years ago that anyone would be calling for justice for them outside the White House.

“Having been one of their closest comrades all these years,” she said, “Watching what solitary confinement has done to them, you lose your sense of trust in humanity. They feel almost hopeless inside. … It makes me almost in tears today seeing people stand up for them.”

August 28, 2020 at 6:23 PM EDT
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Activists deepen their commitment to each other in day of protest

By Michelle Boorstein

Wearing matching red, green and black Black Lives Matter flags as capes, John Meche and Mi-Chael York were among a crowd of stragglers still at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial as the sun went down Friday, reading quotes on the wall while drummers and dancers sang and swayed near the King statue. The day unified their different paths to racial justice activism — and their connection as a couple.

Meche, 42, is an Afro-Latino sociology professor in New York City and a longtime activist. York, who is 32 and Black, works in IT in Louisiana. Coming together in D.C. was part of deepening their relationship as men of color, and for Meche to show York more of that part of his life, and for them to face where the nation is together.

“Last night Mi-Chael was saying how emotional this is. We’re doing what our parents did, fighting for the same things,” Meche said.

York, whose justice work in the past has been focused more on advocating for people in the workplace, has been energized in part by his bond with the more activist Meche.

“My parents went through this, and you think, ‘Okay, mom and dad took care of this,’ and now we’re doing the same thing,” York said.

Meche said since 1963 he thinks things have regressed for men of color “in our opportunities, in the country’s values” and around equity. That said, the men felt encouraged by Friday’s rally and march. They felt it showed unity among activists — including attendees of different races and ethnicities and ideologies.

Both said they come from families that are politically wide-ranging.

“Being an advocate for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor — who’s going to tell that story, to our nieces and nephews —” York said.

“And our children,” Meche added, as they smiled.

August 28, 2020 at 6:10 PM EDT
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Police arrive to guard St. John’s Church

By Rebecca Tan

As the sky grew overcast over Black Lives Matter Plaza, some protesters turned their attention away from the makeshift DJ station and to a group of about a dozen officers guarding St. John’s Church, where President Trump had staged a photo op two months earlier.

Tensions ticked up after a male protester jumped over the concrete barrier, prompting two dozen more officers to arrive on the scene.

“Whose streets? Our streets!” protesters yelled, raising their fists in the air.

Frustration followed the arrival of the storm. Just before 6 p.m., a White man jumped over the fence surrounding St John’s, prompting other protesters to crowd toward the barrier.

“Don’t you dare touch him!” one yelled at the officers as they jogged around the perimeter of the church, asking protesters to stay back.

August 28, 2020 at 6:01 PM EDT
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On the Key Bridge with protesters and police

By Marissa Lang

Dozens of protesters marched down the middle of the Francis Scott Key Bridge just after 5 p.m. Friday as a protester turned the group’s attention to the thick brigade of D.C. police officers on bicycles following close behind.

“Say hello to our boys in blue,” she shouted.

The crowd jeered, raised one finger and thrust their hands at the police. They settled onto the hot pavement, some lighting cigarettes, others drinking from water bottles. The smell of sage mingled with the smell of spray paint as demonstrators painted “ACAB” on the concrete retaining wall and “Black Lives Matter” in the middle of the road.

Overhead, dark gray storm clouds gathered.

“For those of you who aren’t from here, let me tell you why this is a big deal that we’re sitting on this bridge,” an organizer said. “This is one of the busiest bridges in D.C. We’ve now backed up traffic for at least 20-something … miles.”