WASHINGTON — Despite rain and cold weather, marchers filled several blocks in Washington on Saturday as they rallied in a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march that was at times also a rally against President-elect Donald Trump.
Civil rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton had organized Saturday’s “We Shall Not Be Moved” march and rally ahead of Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday. But Trump, whose inauguration will take place in less than a week, was also on marchers’ minds.
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Holding umbrellas and bundled against temperatures in the mid-30s the crowd chanted “No justice, no peace” and “We will not be moved” but also “We will not be Trumped” and “Love Trumps hate.” They cheered when one speaker referenced the comments of Georgia Rep. John Lewis, who has said he will not attend Trump’s inauguration and, an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” set to air Sunday, that he doesn’t consider Trump a “legitimate president.”
“We come not to appeal to Donald Trump, because he’s made it clear what his policies are and what his nominations are. We come to say to the Democrats in the Senate and in the House and to the moderate Republicans to ‘Get some backbone. Get some guts.’ We didn’t send you down here to be weak-kneed,” Sharpton told marchers at a rally after they walked from the Washington Monument to a park near the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
Sharpton called on marchers to oppose Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, and asked the crowd if they were willing to visit their senators’ offices to oppose the nomination. He told them: “We need to make some house calls. We need to stay a little while.” He later told The Associated Press those visits, involving a number of groups, would begin within the next 10 days.
Protesters also gathered Saturday to support immigrant rights at rallies around the U.S., including in Washington, denouncing Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and his pledges to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexican border and to crack down on Muslims entering the country.
The Washington crowd urged Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress not to undo the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, aimed at helping people who were brought to the country as children.
Joining Sharpton were family members of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin and Walter Scott, black men whose names have become rallying cries following their deaths.
“When we leave here we have work to do,” said Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 on Staten Island, New York, after a white officer placed him in a chokehold.
Carr and Sharpton talked about voting rights, criminal justice reform, health care and “a living wage” as issues marchers should care about.
Sybrina Fulton, whose son Trayvon Martin was fatally shot by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Florida in 2012, asked marchers to “stand up and make a difference in your community.”
Marchers themselves expressed a range of emotions about Trump. Debra Conyers of East Orange, New Jersey, said she was a toddler in 1963 when Martin Luther King gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. She said Obama “helped Wall Street” and “helped Main Street.” As for Trump: “I’m waiting to see how it unfolds,” she said.
Alicia James, a 48-year-old marketing consultant from New York City, said eight years ago she stood with her then 12-year-old son on the National Mall for Obama’s first inauguration. She said she doesn’t want to see Republicans repeal the Affordable Care Act or undo other parts of Obama’s legacy, but, she said, if it happens: “You can’t erase the impact he has had on this country.”