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.




Watch the video of Travon the night he was shot. Not the same stature as the 12 year old grade school picture the media would want you to believe was him the night of the shooting. http://www.reagancoalition.com/a...


He deserved to get killed for looking 17 now?


I never said that, just curious as to why the media would use a photo continually of him at 12 yrs old. Of course we all know the answer to that.


Well, we all know there will be no pictures of him @ 18 years old!


That is what is possible when he attacks someone. There is always a possibility that the attacker chooses the wrong person to attack. But that is only if you follow the evidence shown at trial, You know the trial that found Zimmerman not guilty, for killing someone who attacked him.


It is also possible to shoot and kill an innocent person because you are SCARED. Calm down, that's your shadow following you!


I suppose it is also possible for pigs to fly, but when they get out of the airple you will realize they don't fly on their own.

Just as it is possible for someone to shoot an innocent, it is more likely someone with a CCW and not carrying would be killed or someone he is with will be killed because he isn't carrying.

Many things a "possible". How many "possible" things do you want to fantasize about DT? How much you are not a wuss and don't have to walk away from a confrontation? You have already done that yesterday.


Why do I have to be the one to walk away when I AM JUST MINDING MY BUSINESS? You don't have the right to treat me like a criminal if I am not breaking the law! Why can't you get that? It's elementary!


You don't have to walk away. You don't have a right to attack someone who is following you on public property. But then that has been pointed out to you time after time and you always let it sit there and don't say why you think you have a right to attack someone who is following you on public property. I don't expect anything different this time either. You will just let it sit. If you can come up with a good reason for the attack we can keep going.


Public property? Say no more!

J Cooper

Its called the rule of law, no other nation in the world has a better justice system than the United States, If you think they do you are free to move.

Tool Box

Go find jobs and be REAL taxpayers!


You mean REAL like Joe Yost?



The New World Czar

The bad side of all this? Nobody held rallies for the dozens of other youths killed recently in street violence in major cities across the nation.

The good news about this? Outside the usual race baiters like Sharpton and Jackson crowing on, that rally leaders are appealing for peaceful solutions.


Look up the word "race baiter" then repost.




The sensationalizing of this story is sickening to this point. I'm tired of people like Al Sharpton trying to take the rights of everyone away to appease the death of a 17-year-old who would have been convicted of a laundry list of felonies for attacking Zimmerman had he survived.

There was no racial profiling in this case. As far as the "we are Trayvon," do your marches and pep rallies for a kid that acted no different on that night from any other thug in America.


If you are so SICK, take two aspirins and go back to bed! Your knowledge of thug behavior speaks volumes about you! You sound like you may have some pretty good public defender skills too!


When will liberals learn.... ah, never mind, dumb question.


What are they rallying for? Justice has already been served. Maybe they should be more concerned with teaching young men not to assault people?


Both the prosecution and defense agreed to these jury members. Trayvon's attorney had the right to reject them.


Justice for Christopher Cervini



George Zimmerman!


Can he hide out at your place?


This sums it up: PISS ON TRAYVON!!!


You will have to exhume him to do that!


No sh$t sherlock.


Al Sharpton is a wealthy African American that can't see beyond color, he does not represent truth in the black community, he lives for controversy ,and fame,stirring up people to protest , and his followers blindly follow, people have to see the real truth and follow it, even if its not what they like. Its easy to hate someones skin color , its harder to see the truth, even if it hurts.


Good Comment!

Does anyone recall the Washington DC sniper who killed 10 people and wounded several others? The black community was almost certain that the sniper was a white man. Not only was the sniper a black man but the young boy who helped him to kill was also black. The black community blindly followed the race-baiters Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton.

"But to American blacks, according to the Washington Post, the race of the serial killer who for three weeks was the most hated and feared man in the nation was obvious enough: He had to be white."