WASHINGTON — A coalition of black racial-justice organizations started a series of coordinated demonstrations in more than a dozen cities across the United States on Thursday to protest police shootings.
One of the earliest to kick off the Movement for Black Lives demonstrations was in Washington, where a small, mostly white, crowd stood near the entrance of the Office of Police Complaints holding signs printed with “Black Lives Matter” and “Stop Killing Black People.”
Most came to the protest with Showing Up for Racial Justice, an organization that encourages white people to rally around social justice causes, especially those related to race in America. The white protesters would not speak on the record, saying they did not want white voices to drown out the concerns of the black activists they aimed to support.
One organizer from another group, the Stop Police Terror Project, thanked the crowd for coming out.
“We have to move beyond being allies to being comrades in this struggle,” Sean Blackmon said into a megaphone aimed at the crowd of protesters. “The police are an institution that investigates itself and finds itself not guilty as a matter of habit.”
Mr. Blackmon said he was happy to see white residents among the protesters. “Black people don’t have a monopoly on suffering,” he said. “Black people don’t have a monopoly on being killed by police.”
The protests, called Freedom Now, were organized before the most recent shooting, when an officer in North Miami, Fla., on Wednesday wounded a black therapist who had been trying to help an autistic patient on a street, and who was on the ground with his hands up. The protests also come in the wake of other shootings in Louisiana and Minnesota that have stoked racial tensions in the United States, and ambushes of police officers in Louisiana and Texas.
Demonstrations kicked off early in other cities, unifying the message online with #BlackLivesMatter and #FreedomNow, the name given to the collective call to action.
In New York, Showing Up for Racial Justice posted a series of photographs of their followers at police precincts and of a Black Lives Matter banner unfurled at the entrance of a tunnel.