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Thousands to commemorate MLK’s dream in DC civil rights march | News



Months of widespread protests and unrest over the police killings of Black Americans will culminate this Friday with a national march on Washington, DC that commemorates a historic 1963 civil rights march.

Tens of thousands are expected to gather at the Lincoln Memorial in the United States capital to take part in the “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks” Commitment March demanding equality and policing reforms. The march will coincide with the 57th anniversary of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech.

“We’re at a time when anti-racism and this fight against police brutality is at the forefront,” said Lopez Matthews, a historian and digital librarian at Howard University in Washington, DC. “It’s a perfect time to have another march to bring attention to these issues.”

Reverend Al Sharpton announced the march during the funeral of George Floyd, a Black man who died on May 25 after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes. Floyd’s death galvanised months of nationwide protests against police brutality and demands for racial justice in the country.

Protests erupted after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by a policeman multiple times in the back at close range as he opened his car door in Kenosha, Wisconsin [Stephen Maturen/Reuters] 

The march also comes in the midst of fresh outrage and renewed protests after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by a policeman multiple times in the back at close range as he opened his car door in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday. Blake’s father will speak on Friday.

Two people were killed during protests in Kenosha on Tuesday night, allegedly by a young white man who was caught on smartphone video opening fire with a semi-automatic rifle. The shooting left a third person wounded.

“We will NOT stand for looting, arson, violence, and lawlessness on American streets,” US President Donald Trump said on Twitter, adding that he would be dispatching federal forces to quell the protests in Kenosha. 

Friday’s event is also taking place during a fraught election year. Trump, who is running for a second term in office on a law and order platform, is trailing Democratic challenger Joe Biden in most opinion polls ahead of the November 3 election. 

Biden accused Trump of “rooting” for violence. “What’s he doing? he’s pouring more gasoline on the fire,” Biden told MSNBC on Thursday.

Persistent problems

Over the past 57 years, observers and activists say, conditions for Black Americans have improved, in part because of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination based on race.

But inequality, systemic racism and police brutality continue, said Danielle Belton, editor-in-chief at digital magazine The Root, and these have proven difficult to overcome.

March on Washington

Dr Martin Luther King Jr, with arms raised, marching along Constitution Avenue with other civil rights protestors carrying placards, from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington in 1963 [File: AP Photo]

“A lot of the same problems still exist,” Belton told Al Jazeera. “That’s why we need to keep talking about them, that’s why we need to keep marching, that’s why we need to keep organising.”

“Yes, some things have changed in many ways, and in many cases for the better,” she added, “but the reality is a lot these issues are very persistent, because they are woven into the fabric of American society.”

In June, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would ban police use of chokeholds and end qualified immunity for officers, among other reforms.

And in July, Democratic senators reintroduced legislation that would restore a provision of the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965, named after the late civil rights icon John Lewis, but that was gutted by the US Supreme Court in 2013. The law required states with a history of voter suppression to seek federal clearance before changing voting regulations.

Both measures are awaiting action in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Coronavirus pandemic

Unlike the 1963 march, when more than 200,000 people participated, Friday’s rally comes during an outbreak of COVID-19, a disease that has infected more than 5.8 million Americans, leav180,000 dead – the highest number of cases and deaths in the world.

With cases still rising in many parts of the country, organisers said they expect about 50,000 participants after shuttle buses from coronavirus hot spots were cancelled. The in-person march will require people to wear masks and organisers said that hand sanitising stations and temperature checks would be conducted.

Civil rights groups organising the event, the NAACP and the National Action Network, have encouraged people to join the march virtually, or participate in satellite rallies in Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas, where outdoor large screens will livestream the Washington rally.

Washington march

Black Lives Matter demonstrators marching towards the White House during racial inequality protests in downtown Washington, DC, the US [Erin Scott/Reuters]

Natalie Hopkinson, assistant professor in Howard University’s Department of Communication, Culture and Media Studies, said a smaller crowd could potentially affect the impact of the rally, but it will not undermine the sense of urgency around addressing racial justice and inequality in the country.

“The numbers do make a difference and that is what made the George Floyd protests really powerful,” Hopkinson said, “But we’re having a moral reckoning right now, and the march is going to be part of that, it’s all on the same continuum of getting justice for Black people, which has been elusive.”

And yet, while the struggle for equality has in essence remained the same since the civil rights movement in the 1960s, Hopkinson says, the methodology as well as the optics have changed.

Unlike King, who wore a suit and tie, spoke about reconciliation and called for nonviolence, this summer’s protests were held by outraged, young activists – many donning shorts and T-shirts and prone to chants such as “F*** Trump.” 

“That’s very significant because it’s a signal that it’s not about respectability politics, you don’t have to be respectable to have human rights,” Hopkinson said.

This summer’s protests around the country were organised and energised by the Movement for Black Lives, a national coalition of more than 150 Black-led organisations of young activists formed after the 2014 killing of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old unarmed Black man shot dead by a white police officer.

Defund the police 2This summer’s protests around the country were organised and energised by the Movement for Black Lives, a national coalition of more than 150 Black-led organisations of young activists [AP Photo/Ragan Clark]

The movement is demanding more radical changes than the legacy civil rights groups organising Friday’s march. They have been pushing for the passage of the BREATHE Act, which would divest funds away from police departments and prisons in favour of investments in healthcare, education, housing and other social services in Black communities. 

The movement is scheduled to hold its virtual Black National Convention on Friday evening, when organisers will unveil a new political agenda intended to further build on the momentum of this summer’s protests.

‘History is like a wave’

Friday’s march, meanwhile, seeks “to restore and recommit to the dream Dr Martin Luther King, Jr defined” that year, according to a press release, as well as “call for police accountability and reform, and to mobilize voters ahead of the November elections”.

In 1963, King lamented “the unspeakable horrors of police brutality” and said he dreamt that his children would “one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character”.

Martin Luther King

Dr Martin Luther King Jr, addressing marchers during his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on August 28, 1963 [AP Photo]6

King was assassinated in 1968.

Expected to participate in Friday’s march are Martin Luther King III, a son of the late civil rights icon, attorney Benjamin Crump and the relatives of Floyd, Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor – victims of police killings.

Following a commemorative rally, participants in Washington will end the day with a march to the Martin Luther King, Jr memorial.

Steven Cleveland, creator of the documentary “A King in Paradise”, which explores King’s activism and life, said the original march, much like the upcoming one, was meant to be an inspirational moment in Black history – rather than a practical one that would deliver immediate political results.

But King, as a leader, Cleveland says, had the rare ability to both inspire people and deliver policy changes, exemplified by his success in helping pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

“It is one of the keys to MLK’s greatness,” Cleveland told Al Jazeera. “He was the person to both be aspirational and practical. He delivered, using his aspirational talent.”

And the dream that King famously described that day, of racial equality and freedom, acknowledged that some progress had been made, but that there was a long way to go – and it was going to take time.

“History is like a wave, with moments of progress and regression,” Cleveland said. “History is not linear, history is over time gaining a little bit of ground until we reach a place where we move past the oppressive nature of systemic racism, piece by piece, bit by bit.”

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema



When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.


Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded




The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19




Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  

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