Carmen Perez says her feet are a little sore, but that it’s nothing compared to the pain felt by the families who have lost loved ones to aggressive cops.
Perez is the director of March2Justice, a group of social reformers calling for an end to police brutality by walking from New York City to Washington D.C. over the course of a week.
On Wednesday the group passed through Philadelphia, about half-way along the 250 mile trip.
“What happens in New York is not an isolated incident, this happens across the country,” said Perez. “And we’re marching to D.C. to make sure the powers that be are able to hear our cry to know that there are individuals that have lost their lives to police brutality.”
The group of 55, many members of Justice League NYC, started out on Monday from Staten Island, and expect to arrive in Washington Tuesday. Once there, the reformers will call for Congress to pass legislation banning racial profiling and ending police militarization.
“We want people to understand that we need to stop this now, that there’s an urgency,” said Perez. “We can no longer turn on the TV as human beings, as civilians, and see that our communities are being killed by police brutality.”
In Philadelphia, the group started out this morning north of Pennypack Park, walking along Route 1 then cutting over to Center City to join a minimum wage rally downtown. Afterwards, they retired to a local mosque for dinner and sleep before starting again tomorrow.
Along the way today, the group was joined by Tanya Dickerson, mother of the late Brandon Tate-Brown, who was killed by police last December.
Perez said the group has been traveling Route 1 for most of the trip, stopping in small communities along the way to talk with people about the movement. In turn, she said locals have been a huge support, providing food, water and shelter.
Linda Sarsour, co-chairwoman of March2Justice, admitted she was a little tired and sore Wednesday afternoon, saything the group was averaging about 25 miles a day. But she said marching reminded her of the history of those who paved the way for movements like theirs. She said social media provides a useful platform, it was important to go beyond the Internet.
“We believe that marching shows that we are not apathetic, that we’re willing to put 250 miles on our bodies to go to D.C.,” said Sarsour. “We’re sending a message that we’re out there, we’re young, we have the energy and we’re going to continue to history.”
Many of the March2Justice participants, spanning multiple generations according to Perez, have full time jobs and families, so physical preparation for the trip couldn’t always take priority.
Mysonne Linen of New York helped run training programs leading up to the march, and said everyone was doing OK so far. He didn’t know what to expect once the group got to D.C., but that no matter what it was worth the trip.
“The thing about it that’s so good is that everyone here is so motivated, they refuse to allow anything to hold them back,” said Linen. “They haven’t stopped one step. Every step of the way they’ve been here, they’re refusing to rest because they realize it’s for a purpose, that every step they take is for justice.”