Thousands join March Without Fear
Civil rights march confronts discrimination, profiling
Detroit, August 20, 2011: Thousands crowded Clark Park in Southwest Detroit and marched down Vernor Avenue during Saturday’s March Without Fear. The march highlighted shared civil rights concerns by the Latino, African-American, Arab-American, and Muslim communities.
The march was led by community and labor leaders, including: Bob King, International President of the United Auto Workers, Reverend Dr. Wendell Anthony, President of the NAACP, Congressman John Conyers, and Congressman Hansen Clarke.
“We are struggling to raise our children, feed our families and keep a roof over our heads,” remarked State Representative Rashida Tlaib, “We should not be living in fear of a knock on our door, or of being targeted by legislation or agents because of our ethnicity or faith. Our core American individual rights and freedom are jeopardized when we live in fear.”
Latino leaders demanded an end to abusive behavior by ICE and Border Patrol, “Immigration agents don’t belong at our elementary schools, and Border Patrol doesn’t belong at our churches and community centers. We will not be afraid to speak out, we will not be afraid to challenge this injustice, and we will not be afraid to demand respect and dignity for our families and community,” said Lidia Reyes, director of Latino Family Services, speaking on behalf of the Alliance for Immigrants Rights. Border Patrol agents have harassed clients and staff at Reyes’ agency numerous times, based solely on their ethnicity.
Muslim leaders echoed the sentiment, and pointed to incidents at the Detroit/Windsor border, “Law-abiding Muslims have been surrounded by agents at the border, with guns drawn, sometimes backed up by snipers. They then faced hours of interrogation about their religion—which mosque they attend, how often, and with whom. We’re marching today because we will not be afraid to exercise that fundamental American right we all hold dear: freedom of religion,” said Imam Dawud Walid, Director of the Council on American Islamic Relations – Michigan.
Leaders of the African-American community addressed the ongoing challenge of an unaccountable police department and multi-jurisdictional task forces, “Our police department has been under federal order to clean up their act for 10 years, and still we face profiling, abuse, and brutality.
“Now, the federal government is giving them more resources, without accountability or oversight. We’re marching together today to change the culture of the police department so that they can serve citizens in a lawful manner,” said Ron Scott, spokesperson for the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality.
The coalition organizing the march was united around a core platform demanding:
_An end to abusive enforcement and racial and religious profiling by the Border Patrol in Detroit’s neighborhoods, and by the Office of Field Operations at the Detroit/Windsor border.
_Community oversight of federal funds utilized by local police departments through multi-jurisdictional taskforces.
_A redirection of funding from ineffective, abusive enforcement programs into job-creation, education, and blight elimination.
The United Auto Workers, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Service Employees International Union, the Detroit Hispanic Development Corporation and the Detroit NAACP all sent contingents of volunteers to support the march. Marchers were also encouraged to attend the Detroit NAACP’s “Freedom Weekend” town hall meeting at 5:00 PM at Motor City Casino.
The March Without Fear was endorsed and organized by:
The Alliance for Immigrants Rights & Reform – Michigan, the Detroit Coalition Against Police Brutality, UAW Local 600, Detroit NAACP, Detroit Consortium of Hispanic Agencies, Washtenaw Interfaith Coalition for Immigrants Rights, Michigan Immigrants Rights Center, ACCESS, One Michigan, SEIU Michigan State Council, UFCW Michigan, CAIR – Michigan, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement –Wayne County.