Let Controversy Ring

By Lori Preuitt
|  Sunday, Jan 17, 2010  |  Updated 8:29 PM PDT
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Remembering Martin Luther King Jr.'s Dream

AFP/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: The civil rights leader Martin Luther KIng (C) waves to supporters 28 August 1963 on the Mall in Washington DC (Washington Monument in background) during the "March on Washington". King said the march was "the greatest demonstration of freedom in the history of the United States." Martin Luther King was assassinated on 04 April 1968 in Memphis, Tennessee. James Earl Ray confessed to shooting King and was sentenced to 99 years in prison. King's killing sent shock waves through American society at the time, and is still regarded as a landmark event in recent US history. (Photo credit should read AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

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Boycott is a new civic action that will be part of this year's Freedom Train honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 

As usual the train will make the trip from San Jose to San Francisco Monday, but this year key members will be missing.

The San Jose branch of the NAACP are boycotting the event because they are upset that train organizers accepted a $5,000 donation from the San Jose Police Officers Association.

San Jose NAACP President Jethroe Moore says the decision to accept the police union's money was inappropriate in light of reports that San Jose police officers are more likely to use force against people of color.  He has asked organizers to remove the NAACP logo from all materials connected to the ride.

Freedom Train organizer Daniel Hoffman said the train wouldn't be on the track at all without help from the police union because key corporate sponsors dropped out. 

The MLK Association of Santa Clara Valley, which produces the train ride, also released a statement that suggested the NAACP work out its differences with the police, rather than dragging the freedom train into it.

As for the POA.  It's statement spoke of being saddened by the controversy, but vowed to continue to support community events.

That controversy is not the only somber element of MLK Day 2010 in the Bay Area.  One of the main purposes behind taking the train into the City was to take part in MLK events, but two of the main events are not happening this year.

For the first time in 25 years, a rally at San Francisco's Civic Center has been canceled as has a march down Market Street.

The group that organized both events, and lead by Rev. Cecil Williams, disbanded last month.

The San Francisco Chronicle said the group cited declining numbers.  Rev. Williams also said it was time to pass the torch to younger activists.

"A lot of us who spent many, many years marching outside have moved inside," Williams told the paper. "We've been out there for a long time, and we decided we were ready to pull back and let the new leadership emerge."

For more than two decades the group organized the march and rally. Last year the group skipped the march and downscaled the rally. This year, neither are going to be part of the celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

You can get a list of events that will happen here.

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