Atlanta Youths Protest Hate Crimes
ATLANTA (AP) _ Martin Luther King III, son of the slain civil rights leader, told about 750 youths gathered at his father’s crypt Sunday that it’s time to protect people who are being targeted because of their race, religion or sexual orientation.
``Every time that someone’s life is lost through hate crimes and violence, we have got to stand up,″ King said, speaking at the fountain at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.
King reminded the crowd that young people have been crucial to every civil rights campaign of the last 50 years _ from the freedom rides and voting-rights marches of the 1960s to the fall of the Berlin Wall and demonstrations on China’s Tiananmen Square in the 1990s.
Hundreds came from across the country and Canada to march the half-mile from downtown Atlanta to the King memorial. Many spent the day at ``Stop the Terror,″ an all-day summit dedicated to preventing hate crimes, which was sponsored by the Atlanta-based Center for Democratic Renewal.
The march also served as a memorial service for 15 young people in particular who organizers said had been victims of hate crimes. Among those memorialized were Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old gay University of Wyoming student who died in October 1998 after being beaten into a coma and tied to a fence, and Amadou Diallo, a 22-year-old African immigrant who was shot to death by four New York City police officers in February 1999.
The summit and march were part of a four-day event sponsored by the National Crime Prevention Council and Youth Crime Watch of America.