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

The Big Dog's back

Justice for Trayvon.

rezzy

Troll

brassman

Justice was already served

JudgeMeNot

Was clearing George Zimmerman an injustice?

Tool Box

DOJ to drop investigation after this. http://www.pjtv.com/?cmd=mpg&mpi...

The Answer Person

How about JUSTICE FOR O.J. SIMPSON's slaughtered victims? No one seems to care about them. Wonder WHY??? Who will speak the unspeakable?

deertracker

O.J., like Zimmerman went through the American justice system! We all agree the system is flawed! Right?

bearcat

ONLY IN OBAMA'S AMERCIA CAN A BROWN MAN KILL A BLACK MAN AND THE WHITE MAN GETS THE BLAME

herbie_hancock

haha

deertracker

Only in your America can child killers go FREE!!!!!

JudgeMeNot

Its disgusting that people say they will riot, always a handful of scumbags looking for an excuse to pull some bull****. I say press that ****ing trigger and don't stop until there's nothing but a river of blood flowing down your street.

Darwin's choice

Trials over, case closed.

This man makes more sense than many, but will not be as "sensational" as martin, but watch and learn.....

http://theblacksphere.net/2013/0...

EZOB

Get over it just like the past election. Justice was served. Don't do drugs and act stupid, could get you in serious trouble.

The Big Dog's back

How do we know if zim was on drugs or not? Oh, that's right, we don't know because they didn't do a drug and alcohol test on the shooter.

JudgeMeNot

No need to. Zimmer came out of this as a hero.

deertracker

Justice was not served. How about don't pick fights you can't win and you won't need to kill anyone!

brassman

Justice was served. How about you don't assault a man with a gun then you won't need to be killed!

getit right be4...

I keep hearing this could of been my son. Then your son would of deserved to be shot dead.

You can not commit a violent crime on another and not expect them to defend themselves with lethal force.

As far as SYG goes no one should have to turn there back to retreat from there attacker.We have a god given right to protect ourselves. That right is not granted to us by the government but by god.

deertracker

Trayvon had that same God given right!

grumpy

Never a good idea to attack someone you don't know. You might end up with a bag of Skittles and a watermelon tea, when the guy you are straddling whaling on him, might just have a 9mm gun... and the law of the land allows him to use it. It is called self-defense. The jury found him not guilty, the judge declared him not guilty and he is, currently a free man. Justice has been served.

herbie_hancock

He lost that right as soon as HE attacked Zimmerman. You can't attack someone for "following you" and expect it to be ok.

thinkagain

Jesus carried a cross and asked us to take up ours, not a gun.

The Big Dog's back

So you pick a fight with someone, start getting your arse kicked, and then pull out a gun and shoot them. Only in right wingnut America.

grumpy

Other than the gunshot what were the injuries on Martin? What evidence do you have that Martin was attacked? Or are you trying to say Zimmerman started a fight but did no damage to Martin? Or what IS it you are trying to say? Does the evidence back up your premise?

The Big Dog's back

Trayvon had a 1/4" x 1/8" on his left hand. Gee that's all? I thought zim said he was pummeling him.

grumpy

So Zimmerman hit Martin with his nose when Zimmerman attacked Martin? Are you saying the only injuries on Martin was the bullet hole and a cut on cut on his left hand? If so then what was all those screams on the tape about? I suggest you stop digging that hole.

herbie_hancock

Pick a fight? Which case are you refering to? Do you know what an aggressor is?

deertracker

The guy with the gun! DUH!

grumpy

The guy who attacked is the aggressor, since the jury found the guy with the gun not guilty, the judge declared him not guilty. Justice has been served. That is called the rule of law. You seem to be having trouble with that, is rule of law a foreign concept for you?

herbie_hancock

Think you need to check on the definition of that. Following someone is not an act of aggression, beating someone is.

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