Like many of the protests around the nation, NJShutItDown focused on helping college and high school students organize around social justice issues. The group organized petitions, demonstrations, and teach-ins. Zelli Imani is an educator and one of the organizers of NJShutitDown’s January 15 protest at the Camden, New Jersey, courthouse. Imani says that reclaiming Martin Luther King Jr is about “deconstructing the mythicized and commodified narrative of Martin Luther King.” “Through a process of white washing and sanitation,” he says, “we are left with a safe and ‘respectable Negro,’ and not man who the FBI labeled, ‘the most dangerous Negro to the future of this nation.'”
Imani says that activists in the New Jersey and New York metro area are beginning to do more BlackOutBrunches, where “we venture and protest in eateries in suburban areas to disrupt their lives with the issue of police brutality, as the issue has disrupted ours.” He insists the disruptions are not done to invoke anger but to create dialogue. Such protests took place in Washington, DC; Oakland; and New York City.
New York City had two major marches, one that started in Union Square, and another that started in Harlem and ended at the United Nations. Protestors chose the United Nations location to illustrate that police brutality is a global issue and should be taken seriously in the United States. Carmen Perez, one of the organizers of the march on the United Nations, told ABC News, “We want to elevate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King.”
Brooklyn-based civil rights activist Linda Sarsour recorded scenes from the Harlem protest:
.@TamikaDMallory broke down why we do what we do. She slammed those who vilified the protesters. #DREAM4JUSTICE pic.twitter.com/3gWW4IyfzU — Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) January 19, 2015
And so inspiring. RT @lsarsour: This is beautiful. #DREAM4JUSTICE@NYjusticeleague#StolenDreamspic.twitter.com/x6WI7tIOjW — Aunt Khaki (@SunDriedFan) January 19, 2015
Massive die-in outside of Bloomingdales on Lexington Ave. #DREAM4JUSTICE #ReclaimMLK #NYC pic.twitter.com/powY19wget — Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) January 19, 2015
Faith leaders @AuburnSeminary @MicahInstitute @ICNY #DREAM4JUSTICE #ReclaimMLK pic.twitter.com/WlgoaIGbdJ — Linda Sarsour (@lsarsour) January 19, 2015