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Marchers call for equality, end to racial profiling

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Sunday, June 17, 2012, at 8:35 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, June 17, 2012, at 9:08 p.m.

More than two dozen people marched along 21st Street in silence Sunday afternoon to call for racial equality.

They carried signs that read, “War on Drugs is a War on All,” “Stop Jim Crow” and “No Justice, No Peace.”

Sunday’s march, said Juanita Blackmon — founder of Justice Keepers of Wichita — was about calling awareness to racial profiling.

“I think it is important that all nationalities get involved with racial profiling,” she said. “A disproportionate number of people of color are affected. When you have this level of impact, it dispels people out of society. It affects employment ranks, housing, everything it takes to build a family and maintain a family.”

Wichita’s march was in solidarity with the national chapter of the NAACP’s attempt in New York City to draw attention to “stop and frisk” enforcement procedures.

Sunday’s event was endorsed by several area groups including Women for Peace, Kansas Justice Advocates, the Wichita and college branches of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Justice Keepers, the Peace and Social Justice Center and Occupy Wichita. Some area political leaders, including state Sen. Oletha Faust-Goudeau, D-Wichita, and Wichita City Council member Lavonta Williams were also in attendance.

“We have no choice about the sweltering heat,” said Alice Powell, one of the coordinators of Sunday’s march. “This day was chosen as a day to nationally call attention to this law. In Wichita we call it ‘Stop and Search.’ Father’s Day was chosen to honor fathers and draw attention to the fact that fathers as well as youth are all affected by this.”

Shortly before the march began, Blackmon pointed out that in 2008, Sedgwick County had an incarceration rate 16 percent higher than the national average. A flier march participants handed out indicated that “Blacks and Latinos are sentenced to prisons in overflow capacity, disproportionately, in relation to their population.”

“We implement strategies of punishment rather than healing,” Blackmon said.” We have to make the local prosecutor’s office aware. They are the charging body that can change this.

“Awareness will continue to happen. I am a soldier for justice. Awareness will happen on Facebook, YouTube, blog spots all over the country. We won’t be ignored. We are duty bound to make this awareness happen.”

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com.

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