Chanting "We Shall Overcome," more than 600 protesters marched through downtown San Diego Sunday to express their outrage at voters' decision to restore the name of Market Street to the thoroughfare now known as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way.
The protesters held a mock funeral for King Way, which will revert to its former name, Market Street, as voters called for in last Tuesday's election. They accused San Diegans of racism.
March leaders called on black enterprises and other businesses to boycott San Diego and take their conventions elsewhere. There was even some talk of boycotting Market Street businesses.
"The white voters have insulted the black community," said one flyer distributed by some protesters.
The march began shortly after 3 p.m. at City Hall, where several hundred protesters had gathered. The line of protesters, stretching for about two blocks, marched slowly from City Hall, holding hands and chanting "We Shall Overcome" and other ballads associated with the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the movement's slain leader.
Many marchers carried critical banners, alluding to racism in San Diego and questioning the city's self-proclaimed status as "America's Finest City."
The demonstrators walked west on C Street to Kettner Boulevard, south to King Way, east to 1st Avenue, then back to City Hall, covering about a mile of downtown streets.
Throughout the march protesters were accompanied by police officers on motorcycles. The demonstration concluded peacefully; police reported no incidents.
The crowd--estimated at 600 to 650 by police--was mostly black, although there were also a significant number of white participants. Despite the frustration prompted by the voters' decision, the overall mood of the march was celebratory and upbeat. Speakers called on city officials to quickly name an alternative site in honor of King.