In nearly 100 cities across the nation on Saturday, scores of demonstrators gathered to support Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old whose shooting death in Florida last year underscored racial tensions in America and propelled a fiery debate about the profiling of young black males.
The point of the rallies, which took place in cities including New York City, Chicago and Oakland, Calif., organizers said, was to push for a federal civil rights prosecution of George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood-watch captain, and to call for revisions to state gun laws, according to the Washington Post.
Many also expressed outrage that Zimmerman was found not guilty in Martin's shooting death. There were no reports of violence as demonstrations took place in cities where temperatures topped 90 degrees.
John Allen, 23, was among several thousand demonstrators who gathered outside the federal building in downtown Chicago [where the Rev. Jesse Jackson was a speaker].
"It makes the United States look crazy," said Allen, who lives on the city's south side. "Here we are talking about freedom, and we let murderers off after killing a child." …
Thousands reportedly showed up to a rally in Miami. Many of the demonstrators were African American and carried signs that said "Black life matters" and "I am Trayvon Martin."
In New York, Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, wore a shirt bearing her son's face framed by a green hoodie. She pledged to keep up her activism on her son's behalf despite the verdict of not guilty.
"We have moved on from the verdict," she told the crowd. "Of course we're hurting. Of course we're shocked and disappointed. And that just means we have to roll up our sleeves and continue to fight."
In Oakland, Calif., the weather was more temperate than elsewhere in the country, leading 13-year-old Sherekhan Adams to show up to the rally in a gray-hooded sweat shirt and a sign that read, "I fit the profile. Am I next?"
The gathering of about 400 people in front of the federal building there began on a fiery note, urging social change. But over the course of the event, the speakers turned inward. "We have to remember that we have to carry ourselves in a certain way. . . . We have to carry ourselves like we value our lives," 16-year-old Cai Johnson told the crowd.
But in some corners the anger was still palpable. Cynthia Savage, 55, a quality assurance consultant from Clinton, Md., who attended the District rally wearing a "March for Justice for Trayvon Martin" T-shirt, said she was not surprised by the verdict because she believes that racism is still prevalent in the United States — and that it extends to the court.
Read more at the Washington Post.