Crowds Smaller Than Predicted At Bayfront Trayvon Rally
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Thousands of people filled the amphitheater at Miami’s Bayfront Park Sunday afternoon to demand justice in the death of Trayvon Martin. The attendance fell far short of the 75 thousand predicted by US Rep. Frederica Wilson, organizer of the event, but they missed a spirited rally held under a blazing sun.
The Reverend Al Sharpton spoke to a crowd of more than 3,000 people, chanting “No Justice, no peace.”
And the Reverend Jess Jackson called for an “end to vigilantism.”
The crowd belted out its approval of former Miami-Dade police director Bobby Parker’s comments.
“This is the time to become energized,” Parker shouted. “This is the time to take action. Trayvon Martin gave his life for this cause!”
Miami commissioners Michelle Spence-Jones and Francis Suarez also spoke. Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho showed his support, saying he stood up for Trayvon.
“He was my student. He will forever be remembered as a child of Miami-Dade,” Carvallo shouted.
He was one of the many local speakers and performers to appear on stage to energize the rally, including a James Brown impersonator, Singer Betty Wright, and former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning.
The crowd stayed to hear from singer Chaka Kahn, who wrote a song memorializing Martin.
The rally started at 4 and lasted nearly three hours.
CBS4’s Peter D’Oench spoke with the parents of Trayvon Martin and both Jackson and Sharpton.
“Number one Zimmerman should be arrested,” Jackson told D’Oench. “And number two they should change the law that encourages vigilantism.”
“He racially profiled Trayvon,” said Wilson. “He was a neighborhood vigilante.”
Martin, 17, of Miami Gardens, was shot February 26th while walking through a gated Sanford community by self-appointed Neighborhood Watch captain George Zimmerman who claimed he shot the teen in self-defense. Citing the “Stand Your Ground” law, police did not charge Zimmerman in the shooting which sparked outrage and cries for justice across the nation.
The Rev. Al Sharpton said only one outcome would acceptable in this case.
“I told the family from day one I would help them,” he told D’Oench. “I will be here until Zimmerman is arrested.”
Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, said she was truly appreciative to those who turned out.
“It means so much to me to see all of you,” she told the crowd.
Martin’s father Tracy Martin told D’Oench, “I feel good about this crowd. We know our neighbors love us.”
She told D’Oench that it was important for her and her husband to attend the rally to show their support for all of those who were there.
‘I am grateful for this turn out of at least a few thousand people and there has to be justice in my son’s case,” said Fulton.
“Trayvon was my baby,” she said. “He was my child. It’s in the hands of God, but everything will be alright.”
Among the demonstrators, Jeff Rose of Miami told D’Oench. “I think it’s pretty amazing that no one has been arrested yet.” His wife, Patty, echoed his sentiments, saying, “I feel there needs to be justice for Trayvon Martin. It’s not clear why no one’s been arrested yet.”
Governor Rick Scott has appointed a special investigator to determine if Zimmerman will be charged, cleared or if this case will go to the Grand Jury.
The F.B.I. and the Justice Department are both investigating.
The protest will continue nationwide in cities including Los Angeles and Chicago to keep the focus on the case, protestors said.