From afar, their chant was vaguely perceivable: “No justice, no peace ... No justice, no peace.”
As they neared the corner of Jackson and Market streets, the shouts grew unmistakable, much like the messages scribbled in black marker on the neon posterboards they carried.
Emblazoned on one: “My hood doesn’t mean I’m a criminal.”
On another: “R.I.P. Trayvon Martin.”
Thursday afternoon, about 30 Sandusky High students donned hoodies and set out on a mile-long march through the city, protesting the Feb. 26 fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida.
Trayvon, 17, was returning from a store with a bag of skittles and an iced tea when he was shot dead by community watchman George Zimmerman.
Trayvon, who was black, was wearing a hoodie that night.
Zimmerman, described as both white and Hispanic, told police Trayvon attacked him.
The incident has sparked outrage and protests nationwide from people who say the killing was racially motivated.
Police haven’t charged Zimmerman.
And while the shooting played out in a Florida community about 1,000 miles south of Sandusky, the distance did nothing to dilute the voices of this city’s black teenagers.
“It doesn’t just effect his family,” said Brandi Smoot, one of the Sandusky students who protested Thursday. “It effects everybody that cares about what’s right and what’s wrong. It could have been any one of us.”
The students wore hoodies as they marched from Sandusky High to downtown.
“We’re trying to support Trayvon Martin,” Tashay McDonald said. “His death was a horrible mess. He needs justice. His family needs justice.”
“People need to understand they can’t just get away with killing people,” she said.
Some have called Trayvon’s death another instance of racial profiling, demonstrating that even a half century after the civil rights movement, racism is still alive and well in the U.S.
“The person that put powder in Kim Kardashian’s hair got arrested right on the spot, but the person that killed Trayvon Martin is still out,” Smoot said.
The teens said it doesn’t make sense that an alleged killer could continue to walk free in plain sight.
“If we understand it wasn’t right, then why doesn’t everybody else?” asked Destiny Knight.
The group said the know there is no such thing as true justice in this world, although one unidentified girl said this is no reason to shy away from the fight.
“It’s up to us to change that,” she said. “We need to make other people care about making this world right. We have to start here and then we’ll spread out.”
The teens’ march came on the heels of Sunday’s candlelight vigil in Washington park. More than 200 people gathered to support justice for Trayvon, while community leaders spoke out against racial profiling and prejudice.
“No matter what anybody says, I know that it’s still a black and white world,” Smoot said. “We need a bigger crowd.”