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Milwaukee Marchers Trek To DC For March On Washington 2020

Milwaukee activists and about 50 marchers started a journey to Washington D.C. — on foot — at the beginning of August. The group arrived Friday, the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream" speech delivered during the March on Washington in 1963.  

But their journey has been met with some resistance.  

Along the way, marchers say they’ve been called the n-word and had food thrown at them from car windows. And when marchers chant "Black Lives Matter," they say some onlookers have yelled “Trump 2020.”  

But Milwaukee activist Tory Lowewho helped organize the march, says nothing will top the moment a man in Bedford County, Pennsylvania shot at their group one night.

"He actually came firing at us. We have children, women on this trip. We have older people, young people, and that was just something that I will never forget. That this guy had so much hatred in his heart that he would fire on a group of people that are unarmed. ... Just out of the blue shooting at people."

One of the marchers who works as the group’s security, known as Cino, was struck by birdshot from a shotgun. He was treated at a nearby hospital and later rejoined the march.  

No charges have been filed. The Bedford County District Attorney's office and state police are investigating. 

Lowe says instances like this have energized the group more.  

What’s also helped are those who have shown support. He says some have joined the march for a while, walking or in their cars. And people have offered supplies.  

Still, the racism they’ve experienced has been eye-opening, says another marcher, Kenneth McNair.

"You think you see it on TV, but part of you doesn’t really want to believe it. And then when it actually happens like that, 'It’s like wow, it’s true.' You know and that’s pretty much, everyday it’s been something, McNair says.

Since they’ve been on the road, Jacob Blake was shot by a policeman in Kenosha. He is now paralyzed from the waist down, says his family.  

McNair says when he heard the news, it hurt his heart.  

"I mean after everything that’s going on and they still feel that they can do something like that, it’s heartbreaking," he says. "That’s what keeps us out here, that’s what keeps us going forward and not going back."

The marchers have been stopped by police along the way. In Indiana, State Police arrested Lowe and fellow organizer Frank Nitty on charges of obstructing traffic and disorderly conduct but released them within a couple of hours. 

Two nights ago, marchers and their caravan of vehicles continued their journey along the right lane of a two-way Pennsylvania highway, and state patrol officers stopped them, saying they were violating the law.  

Lowe recorded the exchange between an officer and Nitty on Facebook Live.

Sandy Solo and her fellow marchers understand that this is the time to demand an end to racial injustice.

Solo says growing up and experiencing racism in Mississippi prepared her long before this moment.   

"This time we’re hoping to get it done with this generation and stop saying, ‘Next generation, next generation.’ Now is the time to do it. We don’t wanna see our grandkids go through the same things that we’ve gone through already. So, we’re trying to stop it right now," Solo says.

For her and others, this is a way to help prevent another Jacob Blake, another George Floyd, another Breonna Taylor. Another hashtag.

Teran Powell joined WUWM in the fall of 2017 as the station’s very first Eric Von Broadcast Fellow. She became WUWM's race and ethnicity reporter in 2018.
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