After spending much of the past month walking hundreds of miles from Milwaukee, local protest leader Frank Nitty arrived in Washington, D.C., to deliver a brief but emotional speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial Friday morning.
Nitty, fellow activist Tory Lowe and a group of supporters traveled to the nation’s capital to take part in the March on Washington after a summer of demonstrations and uprisings over racial injustice and police brutality. Nitty spent 24 days walking through six states to arrive in time for the mass gathering, which comes on the 57th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech on Aug. 28, 1963, calling for an end to racism.
“We need to demand change, not ask for change. They think this is a negotiation. This isn’t a negotiation,” Nitty shouted. “I came here to demand change. I’m tired. Are you all tired? Because I’m tired. My grandson ain’t gonna be marching for the same stuff my granddaddy marched for. We just marched 750 miles from Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 24 days to get here. We aren’t going to stop until we get change. That’s what we need in this country.”
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Wearing his trademark flat-bill Milwaukee Bucks cap and a white T-shirt, Nitty urged activists from around the country to join together.
“Don’t stop marching. We are going to organize. We are going to come together. We are going to demand change,” Nitty said. “We aren’t going to have our kids marching. This is it. We’ve been marching for the same stuff for 60 years. Black people shouldn’t be marching for the same stuff Martin Luther King Jr. was marching for. I’m tired. And I’m tired of asking for justice. I just want it to stop.”
Nitty said he and members of his traveling group dealt with racism throughout their walk to Washington. Earlier this week, a member of Nitty’s security detail suffered gunshot wounds while the group traveled through Southwestern Pennsylvania in a case that remains under investigation by the Pennsylvania State Police.
He urged the crowd gathered at the Lincoln Memorial to go to the polls and cast ballots as a means of creating change and forging a path toward racial equality.
“When it’s time to vote, we’re going to vote,” Nitty said. “It’s time.”
The speech came as Nitty filed a lawsuit alleging Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputies violated his civil rights and used excessive force and racial profiling during his arrest on the Hoan Bridge during a protest in June. The suit seeks changes to Sheriff’s Office policies including implementation of body cameras.
“This is the Revolution” | Watch for our September issue, which includes a feature profile of Frank Nitty and two other leaders of Milwaukee’s protest movement. It should begin arriving at newsstands and mailboxes next week.