WASHINGTON – Rev. Al Sharpton, president of the National Action Network, led a group of civil rights activists in a march along the National Mall Saturday, pledging to send “home” any Democrats who do not fight President-elect Trump on a number of issues.
At a rally near the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial after a march along Independence Avenue in freezing rain, Sharpton led the crowd in the chant “we won’t be trumped.” He emphasized that civil rights activists want Democratic lawmakers to fight for voting rights, criminal justice and police reform, equal and fair economic justice and protection of the Affordable Care Act – and not compromise.
“We come not to appeal to Donald Trump because he’s made it clear what his policies are and what his nominations are. We come to say to Democrats in the Senate and in the House and to the moderate Republicans to get some backbone, get some guts – we didn’t send you down here to be weak-kneed and get in the room and try to make friends,” he said at the “We Shall Not Be Moved March.”
“We sent you down here to stand up for senior citizens, to stand up for students that can’t pay their loans, to stand up for victims of police abuse. If you can’t do the job then we will come here and bring you back home. We are not going to compromise on those four things,” the MSNBC host added.
As PJM previously reported, Sharpton promised a “season of civil disobedience” surrounding the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). During the march, Sharpton urged the activists in attendance to march to lawmakers’ offices to oppose Trump and his cabinet nominees, specifically the attorney general nominee.
“We are going to go to senators’ offices and we are going to visit them right before the votes for Mr. Sessions. We need to make some house calls and we need to stay a little while and we need to stay in their office while they are on the floor voting here, because Dr. King died fighting for these rights,” he said. “That’s why we came to the King Memorial.”
Rev. Dr. K. W. Tulloss of the National Action Network slammed Ben Carson, Trump’s nominee for Housing and Urban Development secretary.
“Here we are 14 days into a brand new year. We want to send a message that your appointments, those you are appointing to these national positions, that they will hear from us. We know Ben Carson looks good, but the sad thing is he don’t sound good. Are you ready to fight? Are you ready to win? Well, make some noise. Keep it alive.”
Sharpton had a direct message for Trump and his use of Twitter.
“The question, Mr. Trump, is not how we act. The question is how you are going to act about justice. How you are going to act to people that stand up and make America great,” he said. “When you can see people mowed down in a church in Bible class and turn and forgive the killer, that’s what makes people great. Talking loud and saying nothing, tweeting in the middle of the night don’t make you great. Great is when you can look hate in the face and refuse the hate.”
An unidentified National Action Network activist who kicked off the march criticized Trump’s campaign slogan, which is also the theme of his inauguration. “You can’t make America great if you didn’t make her great the first time. It was our grandmothers and grandfathers who prayed us through slavery, who prayed us through Jim Crow. They made America great,” he said.
“It was Africans who crossed the Atlantic by force. We made America great the first time. It is immigrants crossing the Rio Grade today – they make America great. You can’t make America great again if you didn’t make her great the first time. So we come here in advance of your nonsense to set the record straight,” he added.
The activist said the march was organized to reclaim America.
“We’ve come to reclaim America. This is our nation. This is a nation built on our labor, on our backs and we are going to make America great again,” he said. “We’ve come by the thousands to say to those that want to shrink America’s promise.”
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser urged the rest of America to follow Washington and adopt a $15 minimum wage by 2020.
“We call on the nation to do the same,” she said.