(WASHINGTON) “Stopping the Pipeline to Prison and Ending the Prison Industrial Complex Through Education, Jobs and Justice,” is the theme of the March 29 “Silent March and Call to Action” designed to increase national awareness of the disproportionate rates of arrests and incarceration of African Americans.
“African Americans are being imprisoned at four times the rate of other American citizens, largely because of a lucrative ‘pipeline to prison system’ fueled by a voracious $32 billion dollar ‘prison-industrial’ complex and a failed ‘war on drugs’ and biased criminal justice system that singles out African American people for prosecution, often for non-violent, drug-related crimes that other countries treat with a mental health solution,” said the Rev. Dr. Ronald E. Braxton, senior pastor of Metropolitan A.M.E. Church.
“And the crime and violence that you see in the African American community are not because we are a lawless people; they are the reactions to the ‘death nails’ of unemployment, loss of hope, and indifference to the pain of those who have borne the harshest blows from the economic depression in this country.”
Led by the church and its Mighty Men of Metropolitan, in partnership with the NAACP-DC, the Metropolitan Washington AFL-CIO, and others, the Silent March is a passionate plea to build coalitions across the nation to put an end to the “Pipeline to Prison” and violence that plagues African-American communities. The one mile Silent March and Call to Action (from MAMEC to Freedom Plaza) is being held 1 p.m. during a time when many Christians around the world will celebrate Good Friday, symbolizing the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
“We must organize ourselves, step up to the plate and do our part to reclaim our young people, educate our children about the collateral consequences of arrest and prison records, restore our broken family structures and values, and put an end to this vicious cycle that is destroying our communities,” says Rev. Braxton.
Noted author Willie Jolley will moderate and Dr. Michael Eric Dyson. professor of sociology, Georgetown University, will speak at the event. Other speakers include the Rt. Rev. William Phillips DeVeaux Sr., presiding bishop, 2nd A.M.E. District; Akosua Tyus, president, NAACP-DC chapter and the Rev. Anthony J. Motley, Ward 8 in Washington, DC. The Stop the Pipeline to Prison Partners include a number of local elected officials, Ernest Green, civil rights activist and member of the Little Rock Nine; the Hon. Rodney Slater, former secretary of transportation (under President William J. Clinton); local chapters of the NAACP and the AFL-CIO, and many others.
Marchers will gather at Metropolitan, 1518 M St., NW at 1pm, immediately following the church’s noonday services. Marchers will walk silently, side by side, from the church to Freedom Plaza, the site of the Rally (Freedom Plaza – approximately one mile from the church on Pennsylvania Ave., NW between 13th and 14th Streets, NW).
The more than 2,000 expected participants will carry crosses as a symbolic gesture of Good Friday. Participants may register for the march at www.metropolitanamec.org. To become a partner call the church at 202.331.1426.