Reporting David Sutta
MIAMI (CBS4) — Saturday will mark a week since the George Zimmerman verdict. If anything, many protesters believe the outrage over the verdict is getting louder.
It’s the story that has grabbed daily headlines for over a month. Cable television news has dedicated round the clock coverage to the issue.
Even after Zimmerman was found not guilty, his story continues.
From rallies to the media Trayvon Martin’s name is being mentioned across the country.
Saturday, civil rights leaders are rolling out 100 rallies nationwide, using his name.
Bishop Victor Curry of New Birth Baptist will lead Miami’s rally. “What we want to do is bring attention to the stand your ground law,” he explained.
He is essentially seizing the moment. “This is not the first time we’ve talked about trying to get this law repealed or modified. But the Governor is ‘standing his ground’ and we are standing ours,” Curry said.
Civil unrest has followed this case from the very beginning.
A year and half ago, when Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense, he was let go. It hit the media.
Soon students walked out of schools and massive protests took place across the nation. The police chief was fired.
Zimmerman went into hiding out of fear for his life. Collectively justice was demanded.
The political pressure mounted until Zimmerman was finally arrested and charged.
Ray Casas of Wragg and Casas Public Relations first heard about the case far from Sanford, or even Florida.
It was a ski lift in Colorado. Casas said the nation identified with a young unarmed boy being shot and killed. From there it grew. “It wasn’t simply a shooting. It was shooting that had gun control, stand your ground, race relations, a lot of other things involved in it,” he said.
Casas, a public relations expert, believes these special interest are what keeps Trayvon Martin’s story going. Gun control, ‘Stand Your Ground’, and race issues all had a platform when the shooting occurred.
Now because of the not guilty verdict the platform has returned. Martin is no longer the story. He’s the vehicle for the cause. “People who feel very strongly about it identify with it. So whether it’s in Oakland, or in Chicago, or in Orlando, or in Miami people care about the issue, that something needs to happen. Trayvon needs to get justice. And they see it that way.”
The question is will all the noise actually create the change each interest is asking for? Sometimes it happens but most of the time the headlines fade. “You cannot sustain that kind of energy over an issue for a long time because people do move on with their lives,” Casas said.
To further his point he mentioned the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary seven months ago. 26 people, including 20 young children, died at the hands of a gunman armed with an assault rifle. “You saw what happened with gun control a few months ago. Huge national cry about gun control – Sandy Hook. And then it all went away,” Casas said.
We asked Curry why he thinks Martin’s story or Florida’s stand your ground law will have a different outcome than Sandy Hook.
He responded “I thought 20 innocent white children would have at least caused them to pause and cause them to do something. But if that didn’t do it, nothing will.” Curry points out money stood in the way of Sandy Hook.
The National Rifle Association and big gun manufactures basically killed any bills aimed at gun control or even background checks.
Those same deep pocket interests are not only in Florida, but rule the state legislature.
While this moment is yet another opportunity for activists to stand up, one could argue it’s a fleeting moment. What happens after that moment, will be justice or injustice, depending on where you stand.
Saturday’s 100 city rally will be at the federal courthouse in Miami is part of events led by Rev. Al Sharpton. It starts at 10:00 a.m.
The purpose is to press for civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. The Justice Department is currently investigating the possibility of charges.
Tracy Martin, the father of Trayvon Martin, will attend the Miami rally.
Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and her son, Jahvaris Fulton, will join Sharpton outside New York Police Department headquarters at noon.
Other cities with rallies include Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia.