A group of demonstrators completed a more than 200-mile walk to reach the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, calling on lawmakers to pass legislation to end racial injustices.
“Our feet are tired, our legs hurt, our knees hurt, but it really doesn’t compare to the pain which the families of those that have lost their lives to police brutality have been experiencing,” said Carmen Perez, the march director. “We march in their spirit.”
A core of 50-60 protesters completed the march from New York, which stopped in key East Coast cities before reaching Washington. Throughout the nine-day walk, smaller groups joined for shorter jaunts.
Their demonstration follows a series of high-profile fatal encounters between police and unarmed black men across the U.S. Most recently, Freddie Gray joined Eric Garner and Michael Brown – two of the unarmed men whose names have become synonymous with police brutality for protesters.
Gray, 25, died Sunday, a week after his spine was severed after he was chased and arrested by police in Baltimore.
“We understand that Eric Garner is not an isolated incident. There are Eric Garners, Mike Browns, Jesse Hernandezes, all over the country,” said Perez.
The March 2 Justice group brought a series of criminal justice reform proposals to Washington that they intend to deliver Wednesday to lawmakers. The proposals include an end to racial profiling and ending the provision of military surplus equipment to local police forces.
Several members of Congress including Charles Rangel, Barbara Lee and the only two Muslim representatives in the U.S. legislature – Keith Ellison and Andre Carson –attended a Tuesday evening rally to mark the protesters’ arrival.