- The Washington Times - Monday, August 21, 2000

Two prominent black civil rights activists are busy drumming up still more marchers for their rally on the Mall Saturday to urge the federal government to put a stop to what they say is police brutality and racial profiling.

The rally comes nearly seven months after four white New York police officers were acquitted of killing Amadou Diallo, 22, outside his apartment complex in the Bronx in February 1999.

Martin Luther King III, the son of the slain civil rights leader, and the Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, will march in Washington Aug. 26 to urge the president and Congress to enact legislation to penalize police officers who abuse their powers.

The "Redeem the Dream" march also will mark the 37th anniversary of the 1963 march at which Martin Luther King delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech.

"We not only want to commemorate and celebrate the march of 1963 and those who established the dream," Mr. Sharpton said in an interview last week. "We also want to finish the work of the dream and to stop racial profiling and police brutality everywhere."

Mr. King, who also is the executive director of the Atlanta-based Southern Christian Leadership Conference co-founded in 1957 by his late father, was in Washington over the weekend to drum up support for the upcoming rally. He traveled through all eight wards of the District in what was billed as a "Redeem the Dream" motorcade.

"The issue of racial profiling and police brutality and misconduct is very prevalent," Mr. King said during a stop. "We'll use this particular anniversary to mobilize people around this issue."

Mr. King was joined in his motorcade by D.C. Council member Sandy Allen, a Democrat who was at the 1963 march. "I did not think that we would have to redeem the dream; I thought the dream would be carried through by now," Miss Allen said.

The rally is scheduled between noon and 5 p.m. and will take place at the Lincoln Memorial.

The 1963 speech drew a crowd estimated at more than 250,000 to the Mall. Mr. Sharpton said organizers of this week's rally were mobilizing marchers in cities across the country but declined to predict participation.

"Even if 10,000 black Americans turn out, this would be the first march of its kind [against police brutality and racial profiling]," Mr. Sharpton said.

Mr. Sharpton said he hopes the march will persuade President Clinton to sign an executive order to withhold federal funds from police departments that engage in racial profiling, the practice of targeting specific minorities for traffic stops.

"The Dream Redeemers are not anti-police, they are anti-police brutality," Mr. Sharpton said. "The purpose of this march is to demand response from President Clinton and presidential candidates Vice President Al Gore and Texas Governor George W. Bush about the crisis of police brutality."

Mr. Diallo was shot 41 times when he pulled from his pocket a black wallet that police mistook for a gun. His death touched off civil disobedience over police treatment of minorities.

Mr. Sharpton was among several persons arrested at police headquarters and charged with criminal trespass for protesting the shooting.

Mr. Diallo's parents are now seeking federal civil rights action against the four police officers. The Diallos also are suing them and the city of New York for $81 million in a civil suit contending wrongful death.

In March, another unarmed black man was shot to death by an undercover officer in New York. Mr. Sharpton led a procession of more than 3,000 protesters and mourners for Patrick Dorismond, 26.

"In every major city that I've visited, there's a high-profile case involving police brutality," Mr. Sharpton said. "But the federal government has not dealt with that. After each case, we never saw [the government] come out with any results."

Mr. Sharpton also said he wants the march to rally support for legislation, sponsored earlier this spring by Rep. John Conyers Jr., Michigan Democrat, to require the Justice Department to collect and study data on racial profiling by law enforcement officials.

The measure, approved by a House committee in March, would require the attorney general to undertake a two-year study of traffic stops in which race is a factor and provide statistical data to help identify the nature and extent of problems.

"We are challenging an incumbent Democrat to make some changes," Mr. Sharpton said. "And I hope he listens."

The rally has won support from other national civil rights groups including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the National Urban League, the National Council of Negro Women and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams said he also supports the march because there are still too many victims of police brutality across the country.

"In 1963, more than 200,000 people marched for peace, freedom and justice," Mr. Williams said in a statement Wednesday. "And in 2000 we will again gather here in Washington to march toward equality in the nation's halls of justice… . We must come together to promote change. Change must begin in Washington, D.C."

The ACLU wants state and local governments to require their own law enforcement agencies to conduct similar studies on racial profiling in their districts, said Emily Whitfield, the group's national spokeswoman.

So far, eight states have enacted legislation requiring their state and local law enforcement agencies to collect such data from traffic stops. Those states are Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington, according to ACLU officials.

"We think right now America is up in arms about racial profiling," Ms. Whitfield said. "With this march, we want to let people in Congress know that Americans around the country want to end this practice."

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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