Written by Ranee Mohamed
14 Dec, 2014 | 10:33 am
Thousands of people have marched through the US capital, Washington DC, to protest against the recent killings of unarmed black people by police.
Relatives of Michael Brown, shot dead in the Missouri town of Ferguson, and Eric Garner, who died being restrained in New York, were among them.
Both died after encountering police, but grand juries decided not to bring charges, sparking anger and unrest. A demonstration in New York also drew thousands despite chilly weather.
Speakers at the Capitol called for changes to US legislation.
Lesley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown, told the crowd: “What a sea of people. If they don’t see this and make a change, then I don’t know what we got to do. Thank you for having my back.”
The mood in the US capital was described as calm but defiant, with a large number of police on standby.
Earlier in the day, a small group of protesters from Missouri disrupted the schedule by taking to the stage at the starting-point, on Freedom Plaza, and blowing a bullhorn.
They complained that the protest, which was organised by long-established civil rights groups, was staid and ineffective.
The brisk winter weather did not deter the thousands of protesters. Their aim – to stop what they say are the unlawful killings of black men, at the hands of the police.
The majority of people I spoke to said it was the case of Eric Garner, who died after being held in a chokehold by police in New York, which had motivated them to take to the streets, many for the first time. That case, as well as the fatal shooting of the unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, has galvanised calls for change.
People say they will continue to protest until they get justice. They key question is what does that justice look like? For some that means changing legislation and the grand jury system, or giving police body cameras. But the bigger challenge is changing mindsets.
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