TRENTON – In this miniature era of social media chaos, where people post photos with signs before going back to bed to express social outrage, or storm the United States Capitol with minotaur hairstyles from he ignorant insurgency, Larry Hamm and his troops have quietly and persistently traveled 67 miles for the cause they serve.
From Montclair to Trenton.
Few people have watched.
But that was never the point.
There at first, through the wave of outrage over every crime, and now surrounded only by diehards in old-fashioned weather, Hamm entered Trenton earlier today on the same mission he began. in high school for the arts in 1970 – and even earlier.
Someone summoned Washington crossing the Delaware and surprising the Hessians here.
In Hamm’s case, he surprised the New Jersey Legislature asleep in front of the story’s control panel, which he did only very gently – but no less forcefully and in the best of spirit. a real citizens’ campaign – nudged them.
Hamm, founder and director of the People’s Organization for Progress, wants the President of the Assembly and the President of the Senate to propose legislation that would give municipalities the power to create civil complaints commissions with full power subpoena in order to keep an eye on the police and stem the possibility of another police murder of George Floyd.
Those in attendance at the state capital to welcome Hamm included activists Bill Davis and Kason Little.
An atmosphere of celebration and even jubilation reigned.
No headline accompanied the event.
No crowd knelt in the street.
No one has gone mad and occupied a ram on wheels.
Hamm knows how to do it.
His peaceful activism dates back to the Newark Troubles in 1967.
Part of him is in pain from having to walk all these years later.
But part of him praises the seriousness of the camaraderie that comes when few have entered as they were in 2020, when these are just the main impact players left on the streets, that long road to a capital. State ravaged by neglect where pimps cross paths in broad daylight on a Saturday and the Gold Dome looms bubble wrapped in the scaffolding of an endless renovation project.
The Reverend Herbert Daughtry of Lord Church House, walked with Hamm and the caravan on the last leg of the journey.
“I couldn’t get in a car for that,” he said.
At 91, he too has been working for a long time.
In the aftermath of the Catholic hunger strikes of 1980-81, he went to Northern Ireland as a sign of solidarity. 1982, Daughtry founded the African People’s Christian Organization, which sought to create an African Christian nation by highlighting both African origins and Biblical teachings. He worked as Reverend Jesse Jackson’s special assistant during his presidential campaign and accompanied him on his trip to the Vatican to advocate for a stronger position on human rights. In 1991, Daughtry participated in Mayor David N. Dinkins’ delegation to South Africa and met with Nelson and Winnie Mandela. Daughtry has also published several books, including No Monopoly on Suffering: Blacks and Jews in Crown Heights and Elsewhere; and A Seed Planted in Stone – The Life and Times of Tupac Shakur. The slain rapper joined the Daughtry congregation when he was only eleven years old.
In 2003, Daughtry led a delegation of multi-faith protesters to Iraq, in a last-ditch effort to preserve peace in that country.
Hamm was also a vocal non-stop peace activist in the run-up to the Iraq war.
His crusade against police brutality dates back to the days of Vietnam, to the Newark troubles that devastated his city; and completing the longest march of his life today has left the former athletics star resolute on the next frontier: securing in the next session the passage of the legislature and the promulgation by the governor of the draft Civil Complaints Commission Act.
“First of all, I am amazed and grateful for the people who walked with me,” said the activist. “I really thought that after the first day I would walk almost on my own. It never happened. I have never walked alone. People walked for miles without being asked to do so. They had nothing to gain by doing so. It was a totally selfless act on their part.
“Second, I was amazed at how easily it all fell into place,” he added. “We put it together in a few weeks, but it has been going according to plan for weeks. It was almost as if it had to happen. Everything was voluntary. We thought it would be a logistical nightmare to have the walkers come and go every day. It looked like it had gone effortlessly. The support we received from our cosponsors and groups like SURJ-NJ and the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice was exceptional. We have not had any accidents or major incidents.
“And I have to comment on the help we received from the police. We did not ask for it but I must thank Mayor Baraka for the police escort we received, and the police escorts we received from other towns and cities crossed. We traveled transparently and without incident through 28 municipalities. The police officers we interacted with were very cooperative. My thanks go to them.
“I injured my leg after the first day after we walked 13 miles. On the fifth day, I was really limping. There was a time when I thought I might not make it to Trenton, but somehow I did. Finally, I must thank the members of the People’s Organization for Progress whose work, resources and support really made this happen. Power to the people !!! “
Somewhere someone posted an angry face on a Facebook photo of a cop beating up a guy, and elsewhere someone sharpened the horns of the Viking helmet he was wearing during the desecration of the Capitol. from the United States, as Larry Hamm and his yellow-shirted familiar – gruesome soldiers – who began their march over a week ago in Montclair – entered Trenton in the best tradition of relentless nonviolent protest, inflexible and uncompromising.
If the drug and poverty-ravaged city of Trenton hardly looked like an ode to democracy, the calm and no less passionate people who walked down State Street today to this almost unrecognizable giant haybale of heritage civic state had more than an idea of the buried greatness of the country.