Killing casts pall over Luther King celebration

Americans mark the thirtieth anniversary this year of the assassination of Martin Luther King at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. But, as David Usborne explains, celebration gave way to death and panic in one city yesterday.

A gunman fired on a parade in honour of Martin Luther King in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, yesterday, killing one man and seriously injuring three children.

While details of the incident remained sketchy, police said last night that they were searching for at least one assailant believed to be an African American man.

The shooting cast a pall over the annual Martin Luther King holiday which was celebrated across the United States yesterday.

Schools, banks and many businesses closed and for the first time the New York stock markets also stayed shuttered for the day.

"There was fighting and someone pulled out a gun and started firing," Charles Armstrong, a police officer, said. The gunman then ran off.

A police spokesman, Don Kelly, said the gunshots sparked "mass pandemonium" in the crowd watching the parade, which began at a city high school and headed for the city centre.

Police have ruled out a racial motive for the shooting as all four victims were said to be black. A 25-year-old man was killed outright, police said. A six-year-old girl was in a critical condition with a gunshot wound in the back.

Listed in serious condition was an 11-year-old girl with gunshot wounds to the legs and hand. A nine-year-old boy suffered a leg wound.

King, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his civil-rights efforts, was shot on 4 April 1968 while standing on a balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.

At the weekend, the city of Memphis launched a three-month schedule of events to mark his life.

President Bill Clinton yesterday helped paint walls in a Washington DC High School to mark the holiday and dispatched many of his Cabinet members to church services and commemorative parades around the country. He also pledged additional government funding for civil-rights enforcement.

The announcements in Memphis on Sunday were marred by a demonstration by 50 members of the Ku Klux Klan who were protesting that Martin Luther King Day was made an official federal holiday by Congress in 1986.

After a slow start, the holiday has increasingly been respected across the country.

Commenting on yesterday's shooting, Eddie Crawford, from the Baton Rouge chapter of the NAACP, the national black- rights association, said: "There has never been an incident like this."

Noting that the parade passed by poor housing in the city, he said: "Any time you have a lot of young people, you're going to have a problem with guns."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate