March on Washington events kick off in D.C. this weekend
WASHINGTON (WJLA) - The barricades are going up and police are out in full force Friday as the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington is just hours away.
Commemoration participants can enter the National Mall from 17th Street northwest near the World War II Memorial. Access closer to the Lincoln Memorial will be restricted.
The Coast Guard will establish a temporary security zone on the Potomac River near the mall while the Memorial Bridge will be closed from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m.
U.S. Park Police say crowds will be large, but security won't be as tight as it is for other events such as the Fourth of July.
“But there will be different checkpoints, but it’s not going to be say access points,” says Sgt. Paul Brooks of the U.S. park police. “It’s going to be a lot of perimeters and we will be out there in full force.”
Visitors are being urged to take Metro, which will be operating on a normal weekend schedule.
The closest stations to the event are Farragut North and West, Smithsonian and Arlington Cemetery.
Several other March on Washington events are scheduled for Friday. Madame Tussauds displays a wax figure of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. It can be seen at the Willard Hotel in downtown D.C. through Monday. Also Friday, the U.S. Postal Service will unveil a new Forever stamp commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington.
President Obama is scheduled to speak at the "Let Freedom Ring" ceremony on Wednesday, and will be joined by former Presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton.
Along with their speeches, there will be a nationwide bell ringing at 3 p.m. EDT to mark the exact time King delivered his "I Have A Dream" speech, with which the march is most associated. The events were organized by The King Center in Atlanta and a coalition of civil rights groups.
Rosalyn Gibson made the trek here with her cousins. The group is checking out the National Mall in advance of Saturday's event.
“I wasn't even born here at the time that this march. I was born two years later and to be able to be here is just an honor,” she says.
Calvin Bateman of San Antonio was here for President Obama's second inauguration and feels confident that he knows how to get here without any problems.
“First thing tomorrow I'll probably get up, go to the Metro station and take Metro to Foggy Bottom and walk over here,” he says.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.