Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Black Lives Matter group joins in Kingsport parade



KINGSPORT — A movement that has gained prominence in the last year and a half found its way to the Kingsport parade celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday, and the message was clear: Black lives matter.

The Tri-Cities Black Lives Matter movement marched in solidarity with those individuals participating in the MLK parade. The parade went down Center Street in downtown and ended at City Hall.

For those in BLM, the mes sage was about peace.

“The Black Lives Matter movement is about peace,” said Jacqui Sadlo, one of the organizers of the march. “Peace includes not having to worry about being unjustifi ably killed by a racist cop Peace includes not having to worry about institutionalized racism. Peace is not having to worry about children being in the school-to-prison pipeline or adults being the target of a mass incarceration movement to fund private prisons. Peace includes being able to live safely with equal rights in a country that supports diversity.”

The group decided to participate in the Kingsport parade after discussing plans to start a Kingsport chapter of the NAACP during a recent meeting in Washington County. During that meeting, the MLK parade was brought up and BLM marching in the parade was presented to the participants.

After agreeing, organizers with BLM got in touch with Pastor Ronnie Collins, who organized the parade. Collins was reportedly pleased with the peacefulness of a previous BLM march in Johnson City and agreed to let the group participate.

The group’s message was about King and about police violence toward black individuals.

Sadlo said while race relations have improved since King’s time, in some localities in the United States, there are still some racist police. The group said they would like to see the good police weed out the bad ones, even if it is difficult.

She said racism undermines community safety and community development.

And she thinks King would approve of the message.

“Racist police brutality today is just a modernized legalized version of the lynchings of yesterday,” Sadlo said. “Martin Luther King and the NAACP stood up to the inequalities and horrors of racism, and that is what the Black Lives Matter movement is doing today.”