SANFORD (CBSMiami/AP) — A march took place Saturday in the Florida town where 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
Thousands of people carried signs, wore T-shirts with the teen’s image, and chanted “Justice for Trayvon” as they marched to the Sanford Police Department. The march was organized by the NAACP and was one of several taking place over the weekend.
Rev. Al Sharpton and other civil rights leaders, including Rev. Jesse Jackson, spoke during the two-hour rally which followed the half-mile march.
“We live in the middle of an American paradox,” Rev. Sharpton told the crowd. “We can put a black man in the White House but we cannot walk a black child through a gated neighborhood. We are not selling out, bowing out or backing down until there is justice for Trayvon.”
“This is not about a hoodie, it’s about racial profiling,” Jackson said. “We will use our marching feet, civil disobedience and every weapon in our non-violent arsenal until justice is served.”
A dozen buses from across the state brought protesters to the rally. Shirley Roulhac-Lumpkin came with a group from Miami Gardens.
“I come from an era where people wore white hoods and nobody arrested the KKK,” Roulhac-Lumpkin said. “Wearing a hoodie does not mean you’re a hoodlum.”
Gary Marion, a nurse who grew up in Sanford, said the Sanford police department is known “as a good ol’ boy network and this incident sends a message that our children are worth nothing. I would like to see the chief of police charged with obstruction of justice.”
Most of the protesters wore T-shirts with images of Trayvon Martin and many carried handmade posters with messages that read, “Hoodies Don’t Kill People, Guns Kill People” and “Mother’s Tears Have No Color.”
“We come to make sense of this great tragedy and the entire world grieves with us,” said Roslyn Brock, who chairs the national board of directors for the NAACP. “When the Sanford police did not arrest George Zimmerman, they essentially placed the burden of proof on a dead young man who cannot speak for himself.”
Another massive “Justice For Trayvon” rally is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday at Miami’s Bayfront Park, hosted by U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
The shooting of Trayvon Martin on Feb. 26th has exploded into a national debate about racial profiling and self-defense laws.
The case has stirred marches and rallies around the nation, merited comment from President Barack Obama, led to the resignation of the Sanford police chief and brought scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Martin, of Miami Gardens, was walking home from a Sanford convenience store when he was spotted by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who called a police dispatcher to report Martin as suspicious. There was a confrontation, and Martin was shot. Zimmerman has told detectives he shot Martin in self-defense after the teen attacked him.
But critics, including Martin’s parents, say recently released police surveillance video shows Zimmerman without any obvious face or head injuries.
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