District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A. Williams and other black leaders are urging black families to join hundreds of thousands of people for Sunday’s “Million Mom March” on the National Mall to protest gun violence.
Marchers are coming to the District to urge Congress to pass legislation that would require licensing and registration of guns.
The Greater Washington Urban League put forth an extra effort to reach the District’s black residents because the march falls on Mother’s Day, a holiday that is extremely important in the black community, said Maudine Cooper, president.
“Many of these residents wish to do other things to celebrate and honor their mothers,” Ms. Cooper said Thursday. “It’s an important holiday for them.”
But, she said, “the issue of gun control is a very great concern in our community. Too many of our young people have already lost their lives.”
The civil rights organization distributed 30,000 fliers announcing the event to D.C. churches in the last three weeks. League officials also recruited advisory neighborhood commissioners to reach out to the black community and urge residents to come out and support the rally’s cause.
Meanwhile, the march is expected to create some traffic problems, so police and Metro officials are planning to make the commute bearable for motorists traveling through the District on Sunday.
U.S. Park Police Thursday said they will shut down Jefferson and Madison drives at 7 a.m. between 3rd and 14th streets NW, and 3rd and 4th streets NW at 8 a.m. Those streets, however, will reopen at 5 p.m. after the march ends.
Police said they don’t expect any “major” traffic delays.
“I don’t think there will be any problems,” said Sgt. Dennis Maroney of the U.S. Park Police.
D.C. police agree.
“This is not the IMF protests,” said Officer Kenneth Bryson, a city police spokesman.
“This will be a peaceful march. We do not anticipate any violence.”
Metro officials said trains and buses will start running an hour early Sunday, at 7 a.m., to accommodate marchers and tourists just here to see the sights. Extra rail cars and trains will be available if needed.
“We don’t expect to have any problems with high ridership on Sunday,” said Metro spokeswoman Cheryl Y. Johnson.
Ms. Johnson also said Metro buses will provide shuttle service from the Metro Center station to the Mall at 4th and Jefferson Drive NW from 7 a.m. until the crowd clears after the rally.
The rally will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Mall.
D.C. police will help park police monitor the crowds. March organizers Thursday said they expect about 150,000 participants to converge on the Mall by early morning.
Virginia Hayes Williams, the mayor’s mother, is scheduled to open the march and former Surgeon General Antonio Novello will deliver the keynote address.
Others set to speak at the rally include U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, New York Democrat, whose husband was killed and son injured by gun violence, and Maryland Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, whose father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, was assassinated.
“What we’re talking about is the loss of lives,” said Sultana E. Gorham Bey, co-founder of International Million Mom March.
“We want Congress to hear us and pass this gun legislation and put more money into rec centers and programs for the poor. We can pass all the gun control, but until Congress comes down on those communities where guns are sold, we will not be successful.”
Organizers said the goal of the march is to remember those who were killed and to encourage mothers and others to help put a stop to gun violence.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors Thursday unveiled a 54-foot-long and 12-foot-tall panel listing the names of more than 4,000 people killed in 100 of the nation’s largest cities since the Columbine High School shootings in Littleton, Colo., in April 1999.