Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Velivia Peterson, 8, walks with others across the Edmund Pettus Bridge during the start of the Journey for Justice March, organized by the NAACP. The 860-mile march is planned to go from Selma to Washington D.C. over the course of 40 days. (Photo: Albert Cesare/Montgomery Advertiser via AP)

400+ Miles Into Journey for Justice, Marchers Call for Police Reform

On South Carolina state house steps, NAACP demands national standards for use of force and passage of the End Racial Profiling Act

Deirdre Fulton

This story may be updated.

Social justice and human rights activists are rallying Monday on the steps of the South Carolina State Capitol Building, calling for full-scale criminal justice reform including national, uniform standards for use of force among all local, state, and federal law enforcement agents.

The demonstration is part of the NAACP's Journey for Justice March, a historic 860-mile march from Selma, Alabama, to Washington, D.C. that aims to mobilize racial justice activists while articulating a clear agenda that "protects the right of every American to a fair criminal justice system, uncorrupted and unfettered access to the ballot box, sustainable jobs with a living wage, and equitable public education."

When they reached the South Carolina state line this weekend, having covered 456 miles thus far, marchers had already traversed over six times the length of the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery march for voting rights.

On Monday, the Guardian profiled 68-year-old Middle Passage, a disabled veteran from Colorado who traveled more than 1,300 miles by bus to join the Journey for Justice in Selma on day one.

"We’re from all different walks of life, coming together for one common cause," Passage told the Guardian, adding that the restoration of voting rights was one of his central concerns. "We're working together as a unit for the betterment and justice of everybody regardless of race, creed, color, or religion. We're all in this together."

Each state along the march route has been the site of a different issue focus. In Alabama, activists spoke about economic inequality, while education reform was at the top of the list in Georgia. When marchers reach North Carolina and Virginia, their focus will be on voting rights and youth engagement, respectively. And when they arrive in Washington, D.C., they will address the full advocacy agenda that has been put forth under the unifying banner: "Our Lives, Our Votes, Our Jobs, Our Schools Matter."

In South Carolina, where NAACP national president and CEO Cornell William Brooks will be joined by Dr. Lonnie Randolph of the state NAACP conference as well as other faith, environmental, and political leaders, the call is for criminal justice reform—in particular, national standards for use of force and passage of the End Racial Profiling Act.

As South Carolina's The State newspaper noted on Monday, "When and how officers use force has become an issue in South Carolina. Three officers have been charged in the past year with felonies in on duty shootings."

Over the weekend, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders spoke at several South Carolina campaign stops about the importance of ending what he described as "institutional racism." According to the New York Times, Sanders also cited political efforts to suppress the minority vote, the white supremacist racism that led to the massacre of nine black church-goers in North Charleston this summer, and how the recent deaths of African-Americans at the hand of police officers underlined the need for police forces that "reflect the diversity of the community they serve."

Late last week, activists with the country's growing racial justice movement unveiled a new campaign to end police violence, which included recommendations to "restrict the police from using excessive force in everyday interactions with civilians." 

Follow Monday's demonstration—and the march as it continues toward Washington, D.C.—on Twitter:

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

Medicare for All Advocates Take to the Streets of Over 50 US Cities

"How can we have life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness when we live in constant fear of illness, bankruptcy, or homelessness because of the outrageous for-profit healthcare system?"

Jessica Corbett ·

Thousands Join Budapest Pride Parade to Protest Attacks on LGBTQ+ Hungarians

"A lot has happened over the last few years, and it's time to show that we're not okay with it," said one of the organizers.

Jessica Corbett ·

US Lawmakers Demand $34 Billion for Global Vaccine Equity Funding in Reconciliation Package

"No investment in the fight against Covid-19 is more urgent and cost-effective now than an investment in getting the world vaccinated as quickly as possible."

Jessica Corbett ·

Ilhan Omar Demands Answers After First Somalia Airstrike of Biden Era

"It is critical that we realize we are not going to simply drone the al-Shabaab problem to death," the Somali-American congresswoman asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

'Huge Legal Win': Court Stops Police From Blockading Line 3 Protester Camp

One attorney described the blockade as "an outrageous abuse of law enforcement authority serving the interests of the Enbridge corporation against its environmental opponents."

Kenny Stancil ·