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December 12th Movement hosts rally in Harlem to support Ferguson, Mo. uprising

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In a show of solidarity with the St. Louis protests following the shooting death of unarmed Ferguson, Mo. teenager Michael Brown, black New Yorkers got together on Thursday evening and marched for justice and collective action as part of a rally organized by the New York-based December 12th Movement.

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More than 100 people marched from the corner of 125th Street and Malcolm X. Blvd. along 125th Street as part of a rally organized by the Brooklyn chapter of the December 12th Movement International Secretariat, a black human rights organization named after a march to Goshen, New York that took place on Dec. 12, 1987 against the Ku Klux Klan victimizing people.

Protesting Brown's death and police reactions to protests in Ferguson, Mo., marchers chanted slogans such as "In the streets, we got your back," "I love St. Louis!" "Standing up ... fighting back!" and "Black power for black people because black people need black power." Other organizations present at the rally included the Party for Socialism and Liberation and People's Organization for Progress.

On Saturday afternoon, a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, USA Today reported. This comes after the death of Staten Island resident Eric Garner last month, who died while police officers arrested him for selling loose cigarettes. His death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner's office, stating that neck compression from a choke-hold killed him.

On Thursday, the Missouri Highway Patrol took control of Ferguson, taking law enforcement authority away from local police after four days of clashes between officers in riot gear and protesters peacefully protesting Brown's death, Star Tribune reported.

Omowale Clay, one of the leading members of the Brooklyn chapter of the December 12th Movement, said that the rally sought to acknowledge and support the St. Louis uprising.

“I think it’s fitting that it’s in some place we didn’t know, that we see the conditions there are similar to the conditions our people face across the country,” Clay said. “The purpose of the rally was to say, unequivocally, that we support the uprising and we’re very clear about defining it as an uprising.”

The marchers stopped on 125th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd. and Frederick Douglass Boulevard where Clay; Frank Graham and Constance Malcolm, parents of slain teen Ramarley Graham, whom police officers shot to death without a warrant in front of his grandmother and 6-year-old brother in his home in the Bronx in 2012; and Councilwoman Inez Barron, who represents East New York, and her husband, former Councilman Charles Barron, addressed the marchers. They then marched back to 125th Street and Malcolm X Blvd.

Frank Graham said that people need to be more vocal about the injustices that the African-American community has experienced.

“I don’t think we’re angry enough because if we were, we wouldn’t allow this to keep happening to our kids, our family, our neighbors, our loved ones,” Graham said. “It happens too often to us. They move on from one to another.”

The rally took on a more political tone as Inez Barron and her husband Charles Barron criticized the appointment of New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton — in particular, his "broken windows" policy, which Inez Barron said targets African-American children, criminalizing them for minor violations.

“We have a policy here where as a continuation of stop-and-frisk, police officers are giving violations and summonses and arresting people for simple acts such as spitting on the street, walking violations or whatever else they think is not something that should be happening,” she said.

One of the marchers, Cleatress Brown, 38, of Queens, said that simply marching is not enough. People have to present a unified front against what she said is the constant oppression of African-Americans, she said.

“We have to come together,” Brown said. “We have to be united and we have to collectively stand together to say what we’re not going to stand for anymore.”