It didn’t go unnoticed that support from all corners is what helped get Trayvon’s parents and his case to this point. Family lawyer Benjamin Crump acknowledged those gathered in Union Square, as well as those in Florida and communities across the country where similar vigils and rallies were being held. Traditionally, New York City has been a center of support, and it was the website Global Grind that spearheaded Tuesday evening’s vigil. But it was a smaller gathering than in the past.
Still, the fact that the case garnered national media attention helped put issues such as racial profiling, stop and frisk and gun violence front and center. Crump reminded the crowd that Zimmerman seemed to be off the hook for Trayvon’s death until a groundswell of public scrutiny, followed by widespread media attention, got a special prosecutor to charge the 28-year-old with second-degree murder. Zimmerman claimed that he was within his rights under Florida’s “Stand your ground” law, a measure that allows people to use deadly force against those they believe are threatening their lives.
Many in the diverse crowd attending the vigil told The Root that they or their family members could easily have been Trayvon. Lynn Barber brought four of her children with her to the event; all were wearing hoodies, including her 1-year-old son sitting in a stroller. “I have young boys, and that could have been my son going to the store to get some Skittles and a drink and my son is dead for no reason; I am out here for support because I have young men,” the Harlem resident said.
Cato Jones, 53, rushed from work in Westchester County, a New York City suburb, picked up his 9-year-old nephew and got to the vigil just in time to hear the brief remarks from Trayvon’s parents. “This one hit home, and we want to do our part to show our support,” said Jones, who had never been to a Trayvon rally before.
For Kiri Davis, 24, who attended the first Union Square rally for Trayvon last year, this was another opportunity to show her support. “It’s really special that Trayvon’s parents were able to come back to New York to do this again,” she said. “The fact that they chose New York, where we made a really big movement last time, I think is a great honor. I think it meant even more for us to be here.”
Julie Walker is a New York-based freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter.