(WASHINGTON) — Thousands of protesters walked down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C., Saturday to march alongside the families of African-Americans killed in recent months by law enforcement officers.
The families of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice were among those at the “Justice for All” march, where protesters carried signs reading “Black Lives Matter.”
“Let’s keep it strong, long and meaningful,” Eric Garner’s widow told the crowd. Garner died in July after a New York City police officer put him in a chokehold while stopping to arrest him for allegedly selling “loosie” cigarettes.
Also in attendance was the family of Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot by a neighborhood watchman in Sanford, Florida, in 2012. The watchman, George Zimmerman, was acquitted in Martin’s death.
There was a moment of confusion before the march began. A group came on stage with a megaphone, demanding the people of Ferguson, Missouri — where Brown, 18, was fatally shot over the summer — be allowed on stage to speak.
The rally’s MC called for calm, saying he had a message from Michael Brown’s father, who was expected to speak later while some in the crowd chanted, “Let them speak.”
“[Brown’s family is] asking that we not do this like this,” he said. “We are not going to disrespect the families that have lost real lives here.”
Reverend Al Sharpton addressed the crowd after the interruption.
“Don’t let no provocateurs get you out of line,” said Sharpton. “We are not here to play big shot. We are here to win.”
Protests — some violent — have continued since two grand juries declined to file charges against officers in the deaths of Brown and Garner.
Another march is planned for later Saturday in New York City.
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