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Over 200 march in Annapolis for justice, understanding

Over 200 people marched in Annapolis Friday evening to express solidarity, cry for justice and urge communication to help mend the tattered American community.

Over 200 people marched in Annapolis Friday evening to express solidarity, cry for justice and urge communication to help mend the tattered American community.

Citing what they called the continued dehumanization of African Americans across the nation, underscored by two more - of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castille in Minnesota - in the hands of police last week, they sought to express a community's angst and search for answers.

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The crowd, mostly white, marched peaceably with police escort from Wiley H. Bates Middle School the 1.3 miles down West and Main streets to City Dock chanting "This is what Annapolis looks like" and "No justice, no peace."

J.T. Keyes, of Mayo, who is white, was there because he thought it time to do something.

"I talk a lot about inequality," he said. "I talk about it and figured I had better do something about it and encourage others to do the same."

Marchers met at Wiley H. Bates Middle School to walk down West Street and Main Street to City Dock. The march was organized primarily by Da'Juan Gay, a 2015 Annapolis High graduate and undergraduate student at the University of Maryland-Eastern Shore.

He decided it was time for him to get directly involved and stand up and urged others to do so via email, Facebook, and a presentation at the Caucus of African American Leaders last week.

"If we stay silent, we accept what's dealt. But if we speak - we spark conversation, we show our pride, we show that we too deserve equality and justice." he said in his organizing statement.

Before they stepped off, local leader Carl Snowden reminded the crowd of what's ahead.

"Our work does not end here tonight, it begins here," said Snowden, who is a regular columnist for The Capital.

Kalemba Kola-Peba, of Annapolis, held a sign reading "Black, White, Blue - All Lives Matter.

"The way I see it we are all people," he said. He looked over the crowd gathered to march and smiled. "This is a good thing. Now I am looking for some ripple effect."

Leaders and members of several churches turned out. Some from churches that have been actively participating in Black Lives Matter actions, hanging banners by their houses of worship only to have them stolen or defaced. Then hanging them again. They have also organized ongoing conversations about the issues surrounding the Black Lives Matter Movement.

The march moved down West Street at a pretty good clip. They carried signs proclaiming "Only love stops hate" and "Black, White, Blue Lives – All Matter."

As the phalanx moved down Main Street, tourists and late happy-hour customers peered, some applauding, some shaking their heads. Others sat slurping their ice cream as if they could not be bothered.

Once at City Dock, at the other end of the plaza that marks the arrival of the slave Kunte Kinte, a few stood to speak.

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At one point Gay interrupted a speaker to respond to someone on the edge of the crowd expressing disapproval of the Black Lives Matter theme.

"When we say Black Lives Matter, we are not saying no one else matters," he said. "Everyone matters. The police are here protecting them and we are here to work to find common ground. To work together."

Rev. Christina Leone-Tracy said people are blind to the suffering of others, especially people of color.

"We need to listen, to feel, what they are saying about suffering, being afraid," she said. "It is time to be part of the solution."

Darius Stanton, a long-time leader in the community spoke of his roots growing up on Cornhill Street, just yards away, and urged those gathered to push for peace and love.

"This is a beautiful sight," he said. " And you know the best thing about it? The majority of you are not black but white."

Before the closing prayer asking for blessings and urging continued vigilance and communication all joined hands in a moment of silence for the five slain police officers in Dallas.

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