Thousands of people are expected in Washington, D.C., this weekend for the 20th anniversary of the "Million Man March." Organizers and the U.S. Capitol Police debunked a warning Friday morning issued in an "intelligence" newsletter associated with the police department, claiming Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has incited violence in the past.
This weekend's anniversary honors tens of thousands of black men who converged on the National Mall in 1995 to promote self-help and self-respect. Led by Farrakhan, it was the fourth-largest demonstration in Washington history and the largest predominantly black gathering.
Capitol Police Chief Kim Dine criticized comments made in the newsletter, which claimed Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has incited violence in the past. Dine said Friday he hadn't authorized, reviewed or approved the newsletter before it went out.
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He met with and issued an apology to Farrakhan and his staff Friday. The two groups issued a joint statement early Friday afternoon, saying both "are committed to a joint effort ensuring a successful and peaceful assembly" Saturday.
They said they are "keenly aware of the negative impact" of the newsletter, which has been rescinded. It was sent by an employee of the Division of Intelligence and Information Analysis in the Protective Services Bureau and described Farrakhan, his staff and his followers "in ways that were unprofessional and inappropriate," the statement said.
Dine said the newsletter "does not reflect the viewpoint or values" of Capitol Police, and that he's taken steps to ensure something like this doesn't happen again. He said police are conducting an internal investigation on the matter.
The original 1995 march was peaceful, and march organizers said they expect the same this weekend. Organizers are calling Saturday's event the "Justice or Else!" gathering, saying they want justice and equality for everyone in the United States.
"A strategy to work in tandem across this county to attack issues of unemployment, to attack issues of housing and education for our people," said Leonard F. Muhammad, Farrakhan's chief of staff. "We've left our affairs in the hands of others too long."
Saturday's event will include a sunrise prayer service, with the official program set to begin at 10 a.m. at the West Steps of the U.S. Capitol. Farrakhan will deliver the keynote address at 1 p.m.