Milwaukee Marchers Going To DC For MLK Event Shot At In Pennsylvania
Updated Wednesday at 9:39 a.m. CT
One person was wounded when a shooting broke out as demonstrators marched from Milwaukee to Washington, D.C., in response to the police killing of George Floyd, police said.
Milwaukee activist Frank "Nitty" Sensabaugh, one of the march's organizers, told WJAC-TV in Johnstown that the shooting happened around midnight Monday in rural Pennsylvania.
The wounded person, known as Cino, was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown with injuries to his face and side of body, after being struck by birdshot from a shotgun. Marchers picked Cino up from the hospital Tuesday.
Pennsylvania State Police said two people were being questioned in connection with what they called an argument between a group of people and a resident on Route 30 in Schellsburg, in rural Bedford County, that led to gunfire.
In a video posted early Tuesday morning to Facebook, marcher Tory Lowe said the group had parked to organize before they walked up an incline when a man emerged from a house and started shooting at them with a rifle, firing at least seven shots.
"He was like 3 feet away from us shooting and I told him there was a minister here," marcher Tory Lowe said in a video posted to Facebook.
“He started talking to us and talking about God and then tried to share our hands and stuff like that. ... He just starting talking to us like nothing ever happened, like he never shot at us or nothing," Lowe said.
During a Tuesday press conference, Pennsylvania State Police said, "Gunfire was exchanged between the activists and the residents." Police said interviews are being conducted and evidence is being gathered. However, Lowe says he's never seen anyone in his group with a gun. He says the police account of what happened is 'demonizing' the marchers' efforts.
The group began marching Aug. 4 and planned to arrive in the nation’s capitol by Friday, the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” speech. Nitty says since King was known for his marches, he thought, what better way to get to D.C. Nitty originally planned to walk alone, but he invited some people to join him, including Lowe.
“I did know a team was gonna follow me. I knew people weren’t going to let me walk by myself. It was just something I knew I had to do,” Nitty said. “And we began to walk, and the group grew as people joined us, as we went from city to city. I just had the idea from God to do this walk and ever since then it’s been like a great spiritual journey that we’ve been on.”
That being said, both Nitty and Lowe say the journey has been met with some resistance.
Lowe said, “Thing is, when we go to these towns, we try to make sure that we state what we’re there for. We are concerned about the Black lives in each town.”
Once the marchers got to Indiana, they experienced what they said was “a lot” of racism at a “high level.” They were called the N-word and told to get off the road. In some cases, police blocked off gas stations so the group couldn’t use the restrooms, and support vehicles couldn’t refuel. People pointed guns at the marchers, threw things from car windows, and chanted President Trump’s name.
Nitty and Lowe were also arrested for a couple of hours while in Indiana after police claimed the group was blocking traffic while marching on a highway.
Lowe says once the group makes it to D.C., the marchers hope to shine a light on the issue of police violence in Milwaukee.
“We taking steps to get on a national scale with the movement because the local government in Milwaukee has failed the people,” Lowe said. “So, we’re trying to create a larger energy so we can have a larger platform to deal with some of the issues because what’s happening in [Milwaukee] can no longer continue to happen — and across the country.”
Lowe hopes Nitty will have a chance to speak about these issues and his vision for Milwaukee.
And Nitty says he hopes change continues to happen after D.C. He says the group has even seen it on their journey, going through small cities where people didn’t know racism still existed.
“All we’re doing is just walking down the street. You know what I mean? Being Black and walking down the street is enough to expose racism in this country, and I think that’s amazing that we’re exposing something people thought was dying,” Nitty said.
Both Nitty and Lowe say the fight against racism is ongoing, and activists across the country should come together to fight it because the next generation should not still be dealing with these issues.
Editor's note: WUWM's Lauren Sigfusson contributed to this story.