Obama: MLK would have backed ‘Occupy’ protests

President Obama speaks at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall on Sunday. The president said that King's achievements did not come easily or swiftly, but added that the civil rights leader persevered and prevailed. (Associated Press)President Obama speaks at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial on the Mall on Sunday. The president said that King’s achievements did not come easily or swiftly, but added that the civil rights leader persevered and prevailed. (Associated Press)

Mr. Young also urged the audience to vote for Mr. Obama in 2012, saying the president’s re-election is needed to ensure economic justice “just like we won voting rights.”

“The first step of that is to keep a person in office who basically has your interests at heart,” Mr. Young said.
Rep. Steve Israel, New York Democrat and chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign operation, issued a statement saying that “Republicans around the nation are waging an radical, ideological assault against voting rights” even as the King memorial was being dedicated.

“Americans will stand up and fight back against Republicans’ efforts to disenfranchise millions of voters,” Mr. Israel said.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who led a march Saturday in Washington, said those calling for social justice will carry on King’s work at the ballot box.

“Justice is not 1 percent of the country controlling 40 percent of the wealth,” Mr. Sharpton said. “Just like Dr. King talked about occupying Washington, just like there are those occupying Wall Street, we are going to occupy the voting booth. We are going to take those in that stand up for justice, and retire those that stand in the way. You will not take away the Voting Rights Act, you will not take away the Civil Rights Act.”

Some of Mr. Sharpton’s remarks appeared to be aimed at Mr. Obama, who last summer expressed a willingness to trim entitlement benefits in debt-reduction talks with the GOP.

“You will not cut back on Medicaid and Medicare to bargain down those rich trillionaires that ran this country into deficit,” Mr. Sharpton said. “And now you want us to balance the budgets on what is our [entitlement] programs. That’s why when we line up to vote, don’t make this partisan, when you mess with Social Security. This is not about Obama, this is about our mama. We’re going to vote like we never voted before.”

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