By Ken Stone
Updated at 11:50 p.m. Jan. 12, 2017
So a day later — Monday, Jan. 16 — the group’s Rev. Shane Harris will lead a march “not of ivory towers and expensive breakfasts” down B Street to the doors of City Hall.
There his coalition of homeless advocates, workers’ activists and police reformers will post a “historic list” of demands, he told a 90-minute press conference Wednesday.
With 15 people standing beside him at offices of the San Diego Press Club, Harris repeatedly contrasted his 2:45 p.m. march with the 2 p.m. Sunday parade on Harbor Drive.
Harris recalled an MLK Day Parade that used to be held in Lincoln Park, down Imperial Avenue or Market Street — “in that community.”
But the 37th annual parade “is now downtown with the highest hotels, the top 1 percent of the country,” Harris said.
Coordinated by the Zeta Sigma Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, the oldest African-American fraternity in America (which King belonged to), the parade is sponsored by the County of San Diego, Unified Port of San Diego and MetroPCS.
On the Saturday before the parade, the annual MLK Educators Breakfast at the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation is “an invitation only event,” according to organizers, with a suggested donation of $25 a person.
On Friday, Jan. 13, the 32nd annual Dr. Martin Luther King Award Breakfast is set at the Town & Country Resort, benefiting the Jackie Robinson Family YMCA. Tickets range from $45 a person to $10,000 for a “Dream Sponsor” with two tables at front row center.
Harris was asked at a small news media presence Wednesday whether his march might dilute the San Diego Women’s March downtown on Jan. 21 — a day after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“The women’s march is focused on everybody, every woman — no racial divide,” he said. “We’re saying that we believe that there’s still a racial divide in the country. We’re saying that we believe that there’s still racial tension in the country.”
He called his march — which he hoped would attract 1,500 people — a “black and Latino people’s march.”
Disputing the suggestion that his march covered too many topics, like the criticism of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Harris said: “We’re talking about four items — homelessness, workers’ rights in the workplace, police reform and mass incarceration. It’s not a free-for-all.”
Harris said his coalition would support the women’s march and other anti-Trump events.
“But you gotta understand while Trump is … in, everyone’s in a race to get their issues front and center,” he said. “In the progressive movement, just like in the conservative movement, there’s always going to be a battle of whose issues get front and center. We’re putting ours out there like they’re putting theirs out there.”
The ordained Baptist minister and CEO of Shane Harris Ministries Inc. introduced a series of speakers, including the father and younger brother of Alfred Olango, slain by El Cajon police in September.
Richard Olango Abuka, the Ugandan refugee’s father, said: “Martin Luther King died for us, like Jesus.” He called for an International Criminal Court probe with help from Interpol.
On Jan. 14, Harris said, he and Olango will be in Washington with Sharpton calling for a federal investigation of the fatal incident.
Other speakers Wednesday included NAACP member Eddie Price; David Garcias, president of Service Employees International Union Local 221; Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, president of San Diego Democrats for Equality; and Mark Bartlett of People over Profits — which opposes for-profit prisons.
Pastor Jared Moten of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church appealed for clergy members to preach about King, given that some don’t know much about him.
Harris also attacked Mayor Kevin Faulconer and repeated his criticism of San Diego City Council President Myrtle Cole’s appointments to the city’s Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee. (He contends she’s abandoned her black communities.)
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” Harris said. “Now Trump is this today and that tomorrow.”
Likewise, he said, Faulconer has been “this today and that tomorrow, too.”
Harris called Doug Manchester, the real-estate and hotel developer, Faulconer’s ”biggest funder” and noted the former Union-Tribune publisher was one of Trump’s biggest supporters.
“Mayor Faulconer says that he’s not about Trump, but we know behind closed doors he’s supporting Trump,” he said.
The mayor’s office reacted Thursday, responding to a Times of San Diego request for comment.
“It has been very clear that Mayor Faulconer didn’t endorse Donald Trump during the campaign and did not vote for him,” said Craig Gustafson, the mayor’s top spokesman.
Faulconer supported Marco Rubio and later John Kasich in the primaries, he noted, and wrote-in House Speaker Paul Ryan for president.
“It is now time to move past the divisive rhetoric that defined the election and work together for the good of the American people,” Gustafson said via email.
The Monday march will begin a local King movement, Harris declared.
“This coalition you see up here — everybody working together on this march — we will follow through on the King mandate. There will be a plan … to protect what Dr. King fought for.”
He said he didn’t need a permit for march down the middle of B Street from San Diego City College to the Civic Center, but is looking for cooperation with the San Diego Police Department.
“The motorcades will be on the sides to protect the streets,” he said. “We’re looking at talking to [Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman] about them doing it in a way where they’re not seen – we don’t want to put forth the wrong image.”
He said the march would have its own security with Black Panthers and Brown Berets, “but the police will be there to make sure the streets we’re walking are safe, that there’s no cars.”
But it was the parade that made Harris upset.
Harris said it was shocking that in “this moment, even now, people are more concerned about going to breakfasts and galas — and going to parades — when we are about to go into one of the most reversing country we’ve ever seen in American history.”
He cited Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon as poor presidents for civil rights, “but I believe we are going to go into worse times than that.”
“This is a movement for the next four years, for the next eight years — whatever it’s going to take,” he said of his civil rights fight.
“We’re going into some dark times.”
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