‘Black Lives Matter’ Hold Peaceful Rally in Hampden

On a steamy Sunday afternoon, a rally was held in the heart of Hampden, at the intersection of “The Avenue” (36th Street) and Chestnut Ave. The main theme of the spirited protest action was in support of and in solidarity with the “Black Lives Matter” cause. The enthusiastic crowd was estimated in the hundreds.

The sponsors of the event also added this phrase to the reasons for the rally: “We also support the movement against systemic racial injustice in this nation.”

Some of the participants brought their children with them. The title they gave their action was: “Hampden Neighbors Gather in SOLIDARITY for Racial Justice.”

The impetus for the street demonstration was the barbaric murder of a black man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis on May 25th. The four white cops responsible for that cruel and senseless crime are now under indictment.

Floyd was 46 years old. He was accused of “knowingly” using a counterfeit $20 dollar bill to buy a pack of cigarettes, which he denied. He was eventually handcuffed and violently “pinned” to the ground by the police and died.

The death of Floyd has inspired protests and demonstrations in more than 80 American cities and around the globe. So far, Baltimore has played host to at least five of those rallies. The largest actions have taken place, as expected, in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. Most of those rallies, too, now in their tenth day, have been peaceful, but some, sadly, have involved looting, arson, and violence.

President Donald Trump’s Attorney General, William Barr, recently barked, “Peaceful protestors are one of the ‘big lies’ the media is perpetuating.” He was specifically referring to that recent rally at Lafayette Park, in front of the White House. This is the one where the police used pepper balls to disperse the demonstrators so the president could stroll over and take his photo ops in front of the church.

Protesters at that rally insisted they were peaceful and “did not hear any warnings to disperse.”

Black Lives Matter brought out all races to support the fight to end racial injustice. (Bill Hughes)
Black Lives Matter brought out all races to support the fight to end racial injustice. (Bill Hughes)

Getting back to the Hampden rally. It was sponsored by activists from the Hampden community itself, with St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, k/a “The Church on the Avenue,” serving as the “host.” In fact, the speakers used the entrance to the church as their platform in addressing the audience. The church is located at 800 West 36th Street.

At that protest action, the crowd observed the “near 9 minutes that George Floyd gasped for breath while a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, knelt on his neck until he died.” Floyd’s last word, spoken in extreme agony were: “I can’t breathe!” The speakers also called out the names of “those black men and women,” who over the years, have been “wrongly killed at the hands of the police.”

The speakers also promised to continue to “listen to those affected by racial injustice” and to work towards dismantling the system that has “failed them again and again.”

A campaign to “defund” the police departments is also gaining ground. This was also mentioned at the Hampden rally.

Taking the lead on that controversial issue is the liberal Mayor, Bill de Blasio, of New York City. He promised to take some funds out of his police department’s $6 billion yearly budget and give it to youth’s social programs.

Black Lives Matter
Baltimore takes to the streets to support the Black Lives Matter movement. (Bill Hughes)

De Blasio said he would only do it in a way to ensure the “city will be safe.” His comments were immediately a big hit with NYC’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucuses.

Meanwhile, one of de Blasio’s daughters, Chiara, was arrested on May 30th, at a demonstration arising out of the Floyd case. She was charged with “unlawful assembly.” Supposedly, Ms. de Blasio and others were blocking traffic at the intersection of East 12th Street and Broadway, in NYC. She was released from jail and is awaiting trial.

A veto-proof majority of the City Council of Minneapolis has promised to “dismantle its city Police Department and replace it with a new “public safety system.”

The slogan “Defund the Police” was recently painted on a street near the White House. Some politicos are warning, however, about a possible backlash to such police-bashing actions. They point out that one of the reasons Ronald Reagan won the White House in 1980, was that there was a spike in crime from such deep cuts to the police budgets and the voters blamed the Democrats for it.

Will history repeat itself? Stay tuned.

A few more of the photos from Sunday’s protest action in Hampden can be found on my Facebook page.