Atlanta event among 101 ‘Justice for Trayvon’ rallies
by Bill Barrow, Associated Press Writer
July 20, 2013 11:57 PM | 1200 views | 4 4 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Protesters march along Broad Street during a rally Saturday July 20, 2013 in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn. The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network organized "Justice for Trayvon" rallies nationwide to press for federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. <br>The Associated Press
Protesters march along Broad Street during a rally Saturday July 20, 2013 in downtown Chattanooga, Tenn. The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network organized "Justice for Trayvon" rallies nationwide to press for federal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin.
The Associated Press
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ATLANTA — One week after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, people gathered nationwide for rallies to press for federal civil rights charges against the former neighborhood watch leader and call for changes to the nation’s self-defense laws.

The Florida case has become a flashpoint in separate but converging national debates over self-defense, guns, and race relations. Zimmerman, who successfully claimed that he was protecting himself when he shot Martin, identifies himself as Hispanic. Martin was black.

For some attendees, particularly those who are black, the rallies seemed as much about those larger issues as about the verdict.

“It’s personal,” said Cincinnati resident Chris Donegan, whose 11-year-old son wore a hoodie to the rally, as Martin did the night he died. “Anybody who is black with kids, Trayvon Martin became our son.”

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network organized the “Justice for Trayvon” rallies and vigils outside federal buildings in at least 101 cities: from New York and Los Angeles to Wichita, Kan., and Atlanta, where people stood in the rain at the bases of two federal buildings, with traffic blocked on surrounding downtown streets.

Chants rang out across the rallies. “Justice! Justice! Justice! ... Now! Now! Now!” “‘We won’t forget.” “No justice! No peace!” Many also sang hymns, prayed and held hands.

And plenty of participants carried signs: “Who’s next?” “I am Trayvon Martin.” “Enough Is Enough.”

Most rallies began at noon. In New York, hundreds of people — including Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and music superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce — gathered in the heat.

Fulton told the crowd she was determined to fight for societal and legal changes needed to ensure that black youths are no longer viewed with suspicion because of their skin color.

“I promise you I’m going to work for your children as well,” she told the crowd.

At a morning appearance at Sharpton’s headquarters in Harlem, she implored people to understand that the tragedy involved more than Martin alone. “Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours,” she said.

In Atlanta, speakers noted that the rally occurred in the shadows of federal buildings named for two figures who had vastly differing views on civil rights and racial equality: Richard B. Russell was a Georgia governor and U.S. senator elected in the Jim Crow South; Martin Luther King Jr. is the face of African-Americans’ civil rights movement.

“What’s so frightening about a black man in a hood?” said the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who now occupies the pulpit at King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church.

“History would suggest that we have plenty of data to be worried when we see other folk moving through our neighborhoods in hoods. Some of them have on pinstripe suits — but in their hearts, they’re wearing a hood.”

In addition to pushing the Justice Department to investigate civil rights charges against Zimmerman, Sharpton told supporters in New York that he wants to see a rollback of “stand-yourground” self-defense laws.

“We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again,” Sharpton said.

“Stand-your-ground” laws are on the books in more than 20 states, and they go beyond many older, traditional self-defense statutes. In general, the newer laws eliminate a person’s duty to retreat, if possible, in the face of a physical threat.

Comments
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daveyy
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July 22, 2013
They don't want justice, they want to lynch someone. This has turned into a witch hunt.
sp60
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July 21, 2013
Why does anyone still listen to Al Sharpton?

These rallies have nothing to do with 'Justice', and everything to do with him showing he still has political pull.
Leave it to Al
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July 21, 2013
Maybe all of these people should get together and demand the justice system give death to the four blacks who abducted, raped and tortured the white couple in Knoxville. I don't recall rallies when OJ Simpson was acquitted after he brutally stabbed an innocent Ron Goldman or Nicole Brown to death. How about Ray Lewis, whose suit was never found that he wore, the night he stabbed to death two men? Where are the rallies for justice during these horrible crimes? I didn't see whites causing riots or holding rallies because the justice system spoke. Al Sharpton and all these people should focus on teaching the black youth to respect and focus on the positive. This simply teaches them to be racist and it is sad! I feel for Trayvon's parents but racism will never stop because people like Al and Jesse keep it going. Trayvon should have called his dad and should have stopped and responded appropriately instead of throwing fists. Yes, George Zimmernam should not be carrying a concealed weapon or have gotten out of his car. Sad siutation! You are not helping your cause at all!
KX AU Grad
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July 21, 2013
I am African American and I was at the rally downtown Atlanta yesterday. I am an Auburn University graduate and am currently in a Master's program at Georgia State University. Were you at the rally yesterday? No? I didn't think so. Therefore, you have no idea what was said. No one encouraged hatred or disrespect in any form. No one praised African Americans for any crimes that have been committed by African Americans. In fact it was said multiple times that African Americans have to become educated and take care of our families and communities and not fall victim to stereotypes. And as far as not seeing any whites protest in other situations...that doesn't have anything to do with this protest. People of any nationality or ethnicity can protest whenever they want. There were not just African Americans at the protest yesterday. There were Whites, Asians, middle Eastern people, West Indians, and Hispanics. So please, become well known in what you speak of before commenting on it. Don't be ignorant of facts. Have a blessed day!
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