Thousands gather in DC to protest police brutality

Thousands of people gathered in D.C. Friday as part of a massive movement to protest police brutality.

“We need to shed light on what’s going on out here with this injustice,” one demonstrator told WTOP.

Another said: “We’re in this together. It’s not just one race against another race.” She added that it was important to be at the event “because I have a Black son, and his life matters, and my life matters, and there’s a lot of change that needs to take place.”

Speakers addressed the crowds from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963.

Friday’s event comes 57 years to the day after King’s speech.

Martin Luther King III, a son of the late civil rights icon, called the current climate an “American nightmare.”

“There is a knee on the neck of democracy,” he added.

“We’ve got some people we need to straighten out,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said later, talking about why the march on Washington, and national attention, is needed. “We need to have a conversation about your racism, about your bigotry.”

“Our vote is dipped in blood,” Sharpton said.

“You might’ve killed the dreamer, but you can’t kill the dream.”

Breonna Taylor’s mother spoke, visibly emotional, and urged people to vote in November.

Other families of victims of violent policing — Jacob Blake, George Floyd, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner — were also at the Lincoln Memorial.

“This is the last season of the police version of ‘How to Get Away with Murder,'” one speaker said.

The gathering has shaped up to be the largest political assembly in Washington since the coronavirus pandemic began.

Many attendees showed up wearing T-shirts bearing the image and words of the late Rep. John Lewis who, until his death last month, was the last living speaker at the original March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, which went on to become one of the most famous political rallies in U.S. history, and one of the largest gatherings at the nation’s capital, with over 200,000 people advocating for social change.

The thousands of participants that streamed in for the march late Friday morning stood in lines that stretched for several blocks, as organizers took temperatures as part of coronavirus protocols.

Organizers reminded attendees to practice social distancing and wear masks throughout the program.

Get updates on the march from 103.5FM and listen live online.

The march route starts at the Lincoln Memorial and will head south on 23rd Street onto the southern portion of Independence Avenue toward Ohio Drive.

From there, demonstrators will march to the West Potomac Park Polo Field, across from the M.L.K. Memorial, which will be the dispersal point.

While some followed the original march route, WTOP’s Alejandro Alvarez reported around 3 p.m. that a large number of protesters had broken off from the planned path and instead took to the streets of downtown D.C. in several smaller groups.

He said the group he had followed regrouped at Black Lives Matter Plaza around 4 p.m.


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A full schedule is available online.

The “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” comes nearly three months after nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and amid continued coronavirus restrictions in the District and elsewhere.

It’s also on the heels of extreme unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where a Black man was shot in the back by police and paralyzed and a 17-year-old stands accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a chaotic night of demonstrations.

The march was born out of the protest movement that sprang up in cities across the U.S. after the death of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes during an arrest in May.

The weather Friday will be hot and humid.

There are many road closures in effect around the National Mall until 11:59 p.m.

The road closures associated with the Aug. 28 march. (Courtesy D.C. police)

The march was organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton and his National Action Network.

He announced it in June during the eulogy he gave at Floyd’s funeral.

WTOP’s Kyle Cooper, Jack Moore, Alejandro Alvarez, Zeke Hartner and The Associated Press contributed to the report.

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march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Rev. Al Sharpton, Yolanda Renee King, Arndrea Waters King and Martin Luther King, III begin their march from from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

march on washington
A marcher walks past banners and signs at Black Lives Matter Plaza near the White House in Washington, during the March on Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, commemorating the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Participants in the March on Washington conclude their march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

march on washington
People participate in the March on Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

march on washington
People carry posters with George Floyd on them as they march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

march on washington
People participate in the March on Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

(AP/Julio Cortez)
march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Attendees participate in the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Participants in the March on Washington conclude their march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Participants in the March on Washington conclude their march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, speaks during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Attendees participate in the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

march on washington
Terri Biley, of Los Angeles, stands at The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Jacob Blake Sr., father of Jacob Blake, speaks during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Attendees participate in the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

march on washington
People pose for a photo in the Reflecting Pool in the shadow of the Washington Monument as they attend the March on Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network, speaks during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Attendees at the National Action Network Commitment March at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)

march on washington
People participate in the March on Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. Behind is the U.S. Capitol. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Rev. Al Sharpton, founder and president of National Action Network, speaks during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

march on washington
A man stands in the Reflecting Pool as people attend the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

march on washington
Audrey Dimartinez stands with her grand daughter Eliysia Leber as they listen to speakers during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Martin Luther King III speaks alongside Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

march on washington
A Black Lives Matter flag is waved by a demonstrator outside of the Lincoln Memorial during the Commitment March. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

march on washington
People participate in the March on Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: People gather around the reflecting pool during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

Wearing a mask similar to those worn by doctors during the Black Plague outbreak centuries ago, this demonstrator makes a statement about race’s place in American history. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Yolanda Renee King, granddaughter of Martin Luther King Jr., speaks alongside her parents Arndrea Waters King and Martin Luther King III during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images)

march on washington
People attend the March on Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

march on washington
A few attendees of the Commitment March listen to the speakers who are positioned on top of the steps to the Lincoln Memorial. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

A marcher wearing a pig nose raises her fist in solidarity during the Commitment March. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

march on washington
Demonstrators hold up signs just outside of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. (WTOP/Alejandro Alvarez)

march on washington
People listen to speakers during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

march on washington
Two attendees of the Commitment March make street art along the National Mall. (WTOP/John Domen)

march on washington
People attending the March on Washington, have their temperatures taken before entering the area, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Demonstrators at the Commitment March show off their signs while also donning shirts in support of Joe Biden’s presidential run. (WTOP/John Domen)

Rep. Al Green, D-Texas, waits to speak at the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool)

A sign quoting author and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel is held up by a demonstrator. (WTOP/John Domen)

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Members of the cast of Bravo’s “Married to Medicine” attend the 2020 March on Washington, officially known as the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off our Necks,” at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. The march coincides with the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington, where he delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: An attendee listens to speeches at the 2020 March on Washington, officially known as the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off our Necks,” at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. The march coincides with the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s March on Washington, where he delivered his historic “I Have A Dream” speech in 1963. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

A different angle at some of the wares that one demonstrator is making at the Commitment March. (WTOP/John Domen)

march on washington
Walter Carter, 74, of Gainesville, Fla., attends the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

march on washington
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Mothers who lost their children to police killings line up to speak during the March on Washington at the Lincoln Memorial August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

march on washington
People arrive and walk around the reflecting pool during the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Demonstrators arrive on the National Mall for the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” protest against racism and police brutality, on August 28, 2020, in Washington DC. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Megan Dogans of Denver, arrives to attend the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Megan Dogans of Denver, arrives to attend the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP/Alex Brandon)
Activist Dominque Alexander of Dallas, speaks demonstrators gather at the Lincoln Memorial for the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool via AP)

People listen to speakers at the Lincoln Memorial during the”Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” on August 28, 2020, in Washington DC.

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: A woman leads a chant at the National Action Network Commitment March at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Shannon Finney/Getty Images)

(Getty Images/SHANNONFINNEY)
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 28: Demonstrators gather at the Lincoln Memorial for the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” March on Washington in support of racial justice on August 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. Today marks the 57th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech at the same location. (Photo by Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images)

Demonstrators arrive on the National Mall for the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” protest against racism and police brutality, on August 28, 2020, in Washington DC. (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT / AFP) (Photo by ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP via Getty Images)

march on washington
Demonstrators gather for the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” protest against racism and police brutality, at the National Mall on August 28, 2020, in Washington DC. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Demonstrators gather for the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” protest against racism and police brutality, at the National Mall on August 28, 2020, in Washington DC. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Shontina Kuykendoll of Dallas, attends the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Demonstrators arrive for the “Commitment March: Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” protest against racism and police brutality, at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 2020, in Washington DC. (Photo by Eric BARADAT / AFP) (Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Chairs are set up near the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, prior to the March on Washington, which is being held on Friday at the Lincoln Memorial. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
Chairs are set up near the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, prior to the March on Washington, which is being held on Friday at the Lincoln Memorial. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A man waves an American flag on top of the Lincoln Memorial ahead of the 2020 March on Washington.
A man waves an American flag on top of the Lincoln Memorial ahead of the 2020 March on Washington.

The early morning sun rises over the Washing ton Monument and the Reflecting Pool as final preparations are made for the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The early morning sun rises over the Washing ton Monument and the Reflecting Pool as final preparations are made for the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A crowd gathers at the Lincoln ahead of the march.

The Lincoln Memorial can be seen prior to Friday’s march. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)

A grid has been set up to help with social distancing at the reflecting pool before the march. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)

Bottles of water for the march are set out next to the reflecting pool. (WTOP/Kyle Cooper)

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Megan Dogans of Denver, arrives to attend the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
march on washington
Chairs are set up near the Lincoln Memorial on Thursday Aug. 27, 2020, in Washington, prior to the March on Washington, which is being held on Friday at the Lincoln Memorial. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A man waves an American flag on top of the Lincoln Memorial ahead of the 2020 March on Washington.
The early morning sun rises over the Washing ton Monument and the Reflecting Pool as final preparations are made for the March on Washington, Friday Aug. 28, 2020, at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, on the 57th anniversary of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

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