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Last Friday was the 57th anniversary of the 1963 March for Labor and Freedom, where Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech. Once again the National Mall in Washington has been filled to protest systematic racism, police brutality and, of course, to demand justice for George Floyd and Jacob Blake. The two men were abused by police last May and August respectively.
The organization that started the demonstration has decided to call it the March of Compromise: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks, alluding to the cruel way Floyd lost his life. It also coincides with the riots in Wisconsin after Blake was shot seven times at close range. A police officer did not hesitate to pull the trigger to stop the man who was trying to mediate a fight between two women.
A neighbor captured the entire event on video. There are no words capable of describing Jacob Blake’s that minutes. His three sons were present when their father was murdered, a victim of the systematic racism that runs and floods the streets of the United States. The policeman, a white man, emptied his clip on Jacob’s back, he was unarmed. A woman who saw him up close jumps out of her rage, unable to believe what was happening, again.
The controversy escalated after the arrest of a 17-year-old who allegedly killed two protesters and wounded a third seriously with a semi-automatic weapon during the rally. Blake’s family members, Floyd among other victims of police violence, were among the protesters who came to the U.S. capital.
Among those in attendance was Luther King’s eldest son, Martin Luther King III. A simple reminder that time passes and things stay the same. The dream of tolerance is just that, a dream that, although hopeful and beautiful, does not seem to be materializing. Hate is still present and many people are dying because of ethnic differences that for some are insurmountable.
“I have a dream again”
NBA players have refused to play the last playoff games. The Milwaukee Bucks announced they would boycott the game on game night. In the statement, the team said that they had no solution to the problem and therefore could not focus on the sporting event. This triggered a wave of strikes by other teams who stood up against racism.
This decision was taken behind the backs of the private basketball league so that the deaths of the victims would not be monetized. In the WNBA, it has also risen up on a war footing by continuing the protests. The players from Washington Mystics arrived at the game with T-shirts bearing the name of Jacob Blake and seven bullet holes in their backs. Spaniard Marc Gasol has also echoed to protest the systematic racism suffered by African Americans.
Teams from the U.S. Soccer and Baseball leagues have also joined the cause, because structural change is needed that is the concern of all and not just a few. American sport is giving visibility to a problem that seems to be increasing rather than decreasing over time. And that is something that should not be allowed to go unnoticed or look the other way.