MIAMI (CBS4) — In prayer and song, hundreds demonstrated in front of the Federal Courthouse in Miami Saturday as part of the 100 city “Justice For Trayvon” rallies.
“Victory is mine,” they sang as several clergy took to the podium urging change in the wake of the George Zimnmerman verdict. Last Saturday, a jury found the neighborhood watchman not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
“Last Saturday’s verdict says you have the license to pursue an African American behind a law that is ungodly and unjust,” said Bishop Victor Curry one of the organizers.
He’s referring to Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law which gives gun owners wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear bodily harm.
“’Stand your ground’ needs to be changed. I know the Governor says he won’t change it, but we’ll change him,” Bishop Curry told the crowd.
Trayvon’s father Tracy spoke emotionally about his loss.
“Tryavon was my son. A love child. He did nothing wrong and I won’t let them persecute him the way they have.”
Martin says he supports changing Florida’s stand your ground law.
“Since the verdict I’ve come to realize George Zimmerman wasn’t on trial, Trayvon was on trial.”
The rally brought people from all over South Florida.
Willie Green of Pompano Beach said, “I’m 61 years old. In the last ten years I’ve been profiled three times, once right down the street from my house. So that’s why I’m here.”
Parent Rhonda Ward and activist in Broward County says, “Having my son I would not want the injustice that happened to Trayvon to happen to my son.”
Latoya McGraw and Sonya Brown were on vacation in Miami and decided to travel to the rally.
“We have young black brothers, nephews and cousins and we don’t want it to happen to them,” said McGraw.
“When you have support like this, it shows how important the cause is, how big the issue is,” said Brown.
Mike Massey brought his two teenage nephews to the rally.
‘I want them to know things can happen, but you can protest in peace,” he said.
Miami wasn’t the only rally.
Hundreds of demonstrators, including music superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce, joined Trayvon Martin’s mother and activist Al Sharpton in New York City.
In a plaza in downtown Manhattan, Sharpton spoke to supporters, telling them he said he wants a rollback of ‘stand your ground’ self-defense laws. “We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again,” Sharpton said. Sybrina Fulton, also spoke to the crowd.
“Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours,” she said. Zimmerman, 29, a neighborhood watch volunteer, claimed self-defense when, after an altercation on a rainy night, he shot and killed Martin in February of 2012 in Sanford. The case has become a flash point in national debate over race relations, guns and self-defense laws like Florida’s ‘stand your ground’ law.
The Associated Press Contributed to this report.