About 650 people marched to honor Martin Luther King in downtown Fresno on January 17, 2011. When the march stopped at Fresno City Hall, elected officials and a couple of community activists spoke. Newly elected Fresno City Council member Clint Olivier spoke out strongly against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can read his speech in the Progressive News Briefs section of this month's newspaper.

Martin Luther King Day in Fresno 2011

An Antiwar Speech, a Strange Pronouncement by the Police Chief, and more. . .

Union members participated in this year’s MLK march. Some participants thought it was ironic that as commercial solid waste employees marched, the city and a key sponsor of the march was working to privatize that department. Martin Luther King was in Memphis in support of the rights of sanitation workers to have jobs that paid a living wage when he was assassinated. Privatization of the solid waste department will lower wages and benefits for these workers. Yet, Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Allied Waste were both announced as sponsors of this year’s march.
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Allied Waste are both featured on the banner above. Swearengin and Allied are working overtime to kill good union jobs and replace them with lower wages by privatizing commercial solid waste operations.
When the march stopped at City Hall for a couple of short speeches, Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer declared that he was “God’s Minister of Justice as described in the Bible.” Many in the crowd thought Dyer was simply the City of Fresno Police Chief and were unaware of this new appointment.
Members of the local American Civil Liberties Union chapter marched.
The Central Valley Progressive PAC, which is working to elect progressive candidates, marched in the 2011 MLK Day event.
Unitarian Church members marched for social justice.
  • Mike Rhodes is the executive director of theCommunity Alliance newspaper and author of the book Dispatches from the War Zone, about homelessness in Fresno. www.mikerhodes.us is his website. Contact him at mikerhodes@comcast.net.

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