[sixties-l] Protesters to echo civil rights ride of 60s

From: radtimes (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Aug 27 2001 - 22:08:16 EDT

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    Published Monday, August 27, 2001

    Protesters to echo civil rights ride of '60s

    BY NATALIE P. McNEAL <nmcneal@herald.com>

    Forty years after the Freedom Riders exposed illegal segregation in the
    South, a group of South Florida residents is organizing a "Ride Against
    On Wednesday, about 50 people plan to ride a bus from Fort Lauderdale to
    Miami Beach to air their concerns about racial discrimination at a hearing
    of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
    "It's in memory and honor of the Freedom Riders," said Elgin Jones, an
    organizer. "These hearings are historic."
    Organizers said they expected 200 to 300 people, including the bus riders,
    to picket at the Fontainebleau Hilton in Miami Beach, where the meeting
    will be held.
    About two dozen civic leaders are expected to speak at the hearing.
    Activist Dick Gregory and the Rev. Al Sharpton are expected to attend,
    organizers say. Bobby Doctor, the regional director of the U.S. Commission
    on Civil Rights, also plans to bring two members of his staff and his
    Florida advisory committee.
    "This meeting is designed to give the community leadership an opportunity
    to air their grievances and concerns," Doctor said.
    The main issues on the agenda are alleged instances of racial
    discrimination in Fort Lauderdale city government and accusations of
    excessive force used by police in Miami-Dade.
    During the past four years, dozens of discrimination complaints have been
    filed with Fort Lauderdale's equal opportunity office.
    "As an employee of the city, I've suffered through the discrimination,
    retaliation, harassment and the threats carried by its employees," said
    Jones, a city engineering inspector who has filed a complaint with the U.S.
    Justice Department. "It's escalating."
    The charges of excessive force by police include the case of Alphaeus
    "Duke" Dailey, a 30-year-old man with a history of criminal activity whom a
    North Miami Beach police officer fatally shot in the back while he was in
    his wheelchair.
    Ray Fauntroy, president of the African-American National United Foundation,
    which he founded two years ago, will speak at the hearing.
    "We are still being denied the equal access to the economic growth in this
    county," Fauntroy said of Miami-Dade. "The civil rights movement never got
    this far."
    But he said he did not expect the hearing to provide solutions to South
    Florida's ills.
    "It's what we do that's going to make the difference," Fauntroy said.
    After the hearing, Doctor plans to hold meetings with the elected officials
    in Broward and Miami-Dade to talk about the concerns voiced at the
    hearings. If the situation does not improve, the final step could be to hit
    Miami and Fort Lauderdale in the pocketbook, Doctor said.
    "Ultimately, a city that's not in compliance with civil rights laws and
    regulations, could conceivably lose federal funding," Doctor said.
    Organizers hope the Ride Against Racism will inspire the community to
    action, as the Freedom Riders did in 1961.
    The Freedom Riders, a group of black and white college students, set out
    from Washington to New Orleans to test a Supreme Court ruling banning
    racial segregation on interstate public transportation.
    At segregated bus stations, black riders attempted to use white waiting
    rooms and restrooms, while whites tried to use facilities marked for
    blacks. As the riders were beaten and arrested along the way, national
    attention rose and hundreds joined the campaign.
    While Wednesday's "Ride Against Racism" will not be as large a project, the
    concerns are the same.
    "It's not a renaissance, it's a reality," Jones said. "It's a reality that
    we're still being oppressed."

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