Rallying for justice

Across the U.S., people gather in honor of Trayvon Martin
Associated Press
Jul 20, 2013

One week after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, people gathered for nationwide rallies to press for changes to self-defense laws and for federal civil rights charges against the former neighborhood watch leader.

The Florida case has become a flashpoint in separate but converging national debates over self-defense, guns, and race relations. Zimmerman, who successfully claimed that he was protecting himself when he shot Martin, identifies himself as Hispanic. Martin was black.

"It's personal," said Cincinnati resident Chris Donegan, whose 11-year-old son wore a black hoodie to the rally, as Martin did when he died. "Anybody who is black with kids, Trayvon Martin became our son."

The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network organized the "Justice for Trayvon" rallies and vigils outside federal buildings in at least 101 cities: from New York and Los Angeles to Wichita, Kan., and Atlanta, where people stood in the rain at the base of the federal courthouse, with traffic blocked on surrounding downtown streets.

Chants rang out across the rallies. "Justice! Justice! Justice! ... Now! Now! Now!" ''We won't forget." ''No justice! No peace!" Many also sang hymns, prayed and held hands.

And plenty of participants carried signs: "Who's next?" "I am Trayvon Martin." ''Enough Is Enough."

Most rallies began at noontime. In New York, hundreds of people — including music superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce, as well as Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton — gathered in the heat.

Fulton told the crowd she was determined to fight for societal and legal changes needed to ensure that black youths are no longer viewed with suspicion because of their skin color.

"I promise you I'm going to work for your children as well," she said to the rally crowd.

At a morning appearance at Sharpton's headquarters in Harlem, she implored people to understand that the tragedy involved more than Martin alone. "Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours," she said.

In addition to pushing the Justice Department to investigate civil rights charges against Zimmerman, Sharpton told supporters he wants to see a rollback of stand-your-ground self-defense laws.

"We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again," Sharpton said.

Stand-your-ground laws are on the books in more than 20 states, and they go beyond many older, traditional self-defense statutes. In general, the laws eliminate a person's duty to retreat in the face of a serious physical threat.

Zimmerman relied on a traditional self-defense argument and didn't invoke stand-your-ground, though the judge included a provision about it in instructions allowing jurors to consider it as a legitimate defense. And race wasn't discussed in front of the jury. But the two topics have dominated public discourse about the case, and came up throughout Saturday's rallies.

Part of Sharpton's comments echoed those made by President Barack Obama on the case Friday. "Racial profiling is not as bad as segregation, but you don't know the humiliation of being followed in a department store," Sharpton said.

In Indianapolis, the Rev. Jeffrey Johnson told about 200 attendees that the nationwide effort is about making life safer for young black men. Johnson said young black men still are endangered by racial profiling, and he compared Zimmerman's acquittal to that of four white officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King in 1992.

"The verdict freed George Zimmerman, but it condemned America more," said Johnson, pastor of the Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis and a member of the board of directors of the National Action Network.

In Miami, Tracy Martin spoke about his son.

"This could be any one of our children," he said. "Our mission now is to make sure that this doesn't happen to your child."

He recalled how he vowed to Trayvon as he lay in his casket that he would seek justice.

"I will continue to fight for Trayvon until the day I die," he said.

Shantescia Hill held a sign in Miami that read: "Every person deserves a safe walk home." The 31-year-old mother, who is black, said, "I'm here because our children can't even walk on the streets without fearing for their lives."

In his remarks Friday, Obama said it's a reality for black men in American to "be followed in a department store" while shopping or to walk down the street and "hear the car doors lock." The nation's first black president said he had both experiences before he rose to social and political prominence.

At the New Orleans rally, La'Monte Johnson shared some of the same experiences.

The California native said he's been stopped multiple times by police and handcuffed "because I fit the description of someone they were looking for," though he noted charges were never filed against him.

"You can be the greatest black guy around, but you can't get away from it," he said. "You're not equal."

Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that his department would investigate whether Zimmerman could be charged under federal civil rights laws. Such a case would require evidence that Zimmerman harbored racial animosity against Martin. Most legal experts say that would be a difficult charge to bring. Zimmerman's lawyers have said their client wasn't driven by race, but by desire to protect his neighborhood.

Holder said the shooting demonstrates the need to re-examine stand-your-ground laws.

____

Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik in New York, Christine Armario in Miami, Stacey Plaisance in New Orleans, Amanda Lee Myers in Cincinnati and Charles Wilson in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

 

Comments

getit right be4...

Dumb dog must not know the definition of defend yourself

JudgeMeNot

All big dog knows is how to sniff out the next fire hydrant.

Huron_1969

As this drags on, the only thing being accomplished is to make racism worse and divide America even more

grumpy

Then the race baiters are thus succeeding in their endeavor. They will get more contributions to their organization for the cause of making money, for the few head race baiters.

The Big Dog's back

Like the new century foundation, arayan nation, american nazi party, kkk.

herbie_hancock

reach much?

The Big Dog's back

Why would it make racism worse?

Darwin's choice

Big Dog, why are you such a race baiter? 19 posts here, and you have 6 of them! You do nothing but fan the flames, no matter what the subject. Were you at the incident with zimmerman? You act like you were! All your comments are, at best, 4th or 5th hand, yet you speak as if you were present! Let it go. Obama is doing a much better job of dividing the country, like no other president in history, you can stop being a cheerleader.

The Good Doctor

The Big Dog is a race batter?!!! Hmmmm. Look in the mirror before you type.

deertracker

Race batter? Does he use a Louisville slugger for that? Both of you need to look the word up. You sound like that guy in detox aka pooh!

There you go again

And our president is leading that march to bring racism into this non-racist verdict.

deertracker

there you go again......SMDH!!!!!!!!!!

bearcat

big dog could be OBAMA'S dog don't you know

deertracker

What would you be? His cat?

Gardenman

I am an Obama supporter and have been since he first ran for President. But must admit my patience is running thin these days. I think a jury has looked at the case and deliberated and the decision is not guilty. I see no purpose to Obama fanning the flames. Lets move on !!

I take issue with Obama saying this was he 35 years ago. Sorry Mr President you were never a Trayvon Martin. You lived a very nice well funded life with private schools and many other perks the majority of Blacks never have.

As said I have been a devout Obama supporter but for the first time in 6+ years that is wearing thin with some of the things being done here.

deertracker

He is not fanning any flames. His last speech was not even about the trial. You are WRONG! He was a Trayvon Martin. Private school or not, his face was always black. That is how he identifies with Martin. Do you know what it is like to be black? If you don't you are commenting on things you have NO CLUE about!

herbie_hancock

Ahhh so black people have a monopoly on being victims of prejudice? ANYONE walking through the east side of Cleveland, Chicago or LA knows what that feeling is like. Or anyone who's traveled to other countries where being an American is no longer cool. I have been rejected from bars, clubs and restaurants for being white, I’ve had someone start a fight with me for no reason other than my skin color, I’ve been cussed at on a subway for being white and in the "wrong side of town", I’ve been pulled over by more black cops then white, and do you see me whining about it and pulling the race card? You don't have a monopoly on that feeling just because of YOUR skin color. The majority of people no longer see skin color as a separating factor. The only ones that use it as either an excuse or handicap are the ones that want race to no longer be an issue. The reason this is such a big deal right now is because everyone is fed up with hearing from the people who don't want race to be a factor, yet THEY are the ones that make it a factor. YOU ARE WHAT YOU MAKE OF YOURSELF Stop using your race as the cause of your hardships, because it’s no longer an acceptable excuse.

JudgeMeNot

Trayvons supporters have proven time and time again that they have low IQ's.

starryeyes83

Oh yeah, let us honor all wannabe gangbanging thugs..

After all, the little criminals deserve our respect and admiration.

Yeah, riiight!

[Insert sarcasm and eyeroll here ]

deertracker

Star, who was or is a wannabe gangbangin' thug? Seriously, no eye roll here!

JudgeMeNot

Trayvons supporters have proven time and time again that they have low IQ's.

starryeyes83

Deerest,,

You and I don't agree on this at all. So you know who I mean. It sure wasn't Zimmerman.... Trayvon was where he should not have been and copped an attitude. Because Punk kids (no matter what their color or shade) just think they can go wherever they want. If the kid was in fear of his life, why didn't he call the cops? why call that Gf of his?

Obama needs to keep his piehole shut he's just fanning the flames and frankly, with so many black kids getting killed in His town of Chicago, And yet, not ONE peep out of him about that. Doesn't make sense.

Trial's over. Moving on, now.

herbie_hancock

the wannabe most certainly wasn't the kid dressed up like a thug sporting a gun and growing/smoking/selling weed...

Nor'easter

The autopsy of Travon reported that there were drugs in his system. What effect did this have on the outcome?

deertracker

Trace amounts of marijuana. He could have smoked that weeks ago!

rezzy

The horse is dead, quit kicking it. Nothing is going to happen and you're wasting your time trying to seek revenge on Zimmerman. Sore losers

deertracker

The horse is not dead a 17 year old kid is dead and it's called justice not revenge. The same thing you would want if little rezzy got gunned down. There are no winners in this case.

grumpy

Justice was delivered by the jury verdict and finding by a court of law. Zimmerman was found and declared by the court to be not guilty. Next. What part of the court finding is beyond your understanding? The NOT or the GUILTY, or the meaning of that term?

deertracker

I don't understand how anyone can kill an unarmed kid and go free. I get the rest. It's just justice! All of you that advocate murder or killing probably has never killed a bug. You get on here and boast about your CCW permits and how brave you are but if you feel the need to carry while pumping gas, how brave are you?

grumpy

You are the one yesterday bragged he was not a wuss and would not walk away from a confrontation. I said I would and have taught my son to do the same. What happened overnight to change your tune? Have you now seen that you are a wuss, or that walking away from a confrontation is the intelligent thing to do? Just curious. I really don't expect you to answer why, then you would be explaining why you went 180 degrees the other way.

I have never claimed to be brave, but you have claimed loudly and repeatedly that you are not a wuss and would not walk away from a confrontation. I have been taught from a young age to walk away. That was reinforced when I started martial arts, and again when I started shooting guns, and yet again when I first got a permit to carry a gun and one more time when the CCW came around and I had to take a class again for carrying concealed. I am a wuss and walk away.

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