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Fort Lauderdale march in solidarity with victims of Charleston massacre

By Cassia Laham |
June 25, 2015
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Fort Lauderdale march against racist violence
Fort Lauderdale march against racist violence (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Fort Lauderdale, FL - Over 100 people held a vigil, rally and march the evening of June 23, in a community response to the Charleston massacre of nine African American churchgoers.

The organizers’ statement read, “The South Florida community unites with communities throughout the country in remembering the victims of this attack.” After the vigil there was a “rally against national oppression and racist violence in the U.S."

The vigil and rally began in front of the African American Research Library in the Sistrunk neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, a predominantly African American community. Protesters gathered chanting, “When Black and brown bodies are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” Their signs read, “Black lives matter,” and “Stand up against white supremacy and racism.”

It then turned into a two-mile march as protesters took to the streets. They chanted loudly as they marched down Sistrunk Boulevard. People from the neighborhood joined the chanting and several joined the march. Halfway through, protesters energetically took over an intersection at NW 6th Street and NW 9th Avenue for several minutes, blocking traffic and shouting, “If we don’t get it, shut it down! Shut it down!”

The attack on the AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina was committed by a white supremacist hoping to start a race war against African Americans. The AME Church was specifically chosen for its historic importance to the African American people and because it was the target for Klan violence in the past. The white killer’s goal was to intimidate, but instead the result is a strengthening of the African American people’s resolve to end their oppression. Rather than give into fear and racist violence, people throughout the country are joining African Americans and rising up in unity to stand against racism and oppression. The South Florida protest was a part of that fight back.

Didier Ortiz, one of the organizers of the South Florida march, spoke to the crowd. “Together we have the power to end racial violence,” he said, “It starts with solidarity and ends in liberation!”

The march ended at the Mount Hermon AME Church, where protesters gathered for a vigil to remember the nine victims of the Charleston massacre. They held moments of silence for all victims of racist hate. People also held candles and listened to speeches from community organizers and religious leaders.

"Let's call this what it is: the massacre in Charleston was a terrorist attack,” said St. James Valsin, an organizer of the event. “And long before ISIS or Al-Qaeda ever existed Black and brown people in America - Black, brown, and poor people all over this world - have felt the sting of American terror in the form of imperialism and capitalism. The institutionalized racism and sexism that we are fighting against are all byproducts of the American dream."

The protest was organized by local community organizations including People’s Opposition to War, Imperialism, and Racism (POWIR), Broward Dream Defenders, and Broward Green Party. Protesters say that they will march again and again until they “finally get the freedom and justice we all deserve.”

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