Sunday rally, march in Chicago to protest acquittal in Trayvon Martin case
BY Francine Knowles Staff Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org July 14, 2013 5:31PM
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- Mary Mitchell: Zimmerman trial forced us all to confront our biases
- Zimmerman ‘has to be cautious,’ his lawyer says
- Zimmerman, Martin families react to verdict
- Chicago ministers call for calm in wake of Trayvon Martin verdict
Updated: August 16, 2013 6:33AM
Some chanted “Justice for Trayvon” Martin. A few wore hoodies in his memory. Others carried signs, including one picturing Martin and Emmett Till, whose brutal murder helped ignite the civil rights movement.
They were among a racially diverse group of several hundred people who marched along the streets of downtown Chicago Sunday to protest neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman’s acquittal by a Florida jury of all charges in the shooting death of Martin — a protest that drew one of Till’s cousins.
“We’ve gone from approved killings in Mississippi in 1955 to approved killings in Florida in 2013,” said Airicka Gordon Taylor, the cousin of Till. “[Tilll’s] murder illuminated what was being done to blacks in 1955. Now with Trayvon Martin, it’s also another illumination. It’s demonstrating to our young people that your rights are being stripped away. It’s open season on black children.”
Taylor sees the verdict as a wake up call.
“We need a new civil rights movement,” she said. “I believe this is the case that will . . . anger black America to do what’s necessary to obtain those rights that we’re being stripped of, just like when Emmet Till was murdered and there was a movement and we made progress.”
As the protesters marched and chanted “We are all Trayvon Martin,” passersby in cars honked their horns in support, enlisting cheers. The demonstrators were estimated by police to number roughly 400. Among them was 77-year-old retired teacher and West Loop resident Elaine Neal, who said she was “absolutely horrified” at the verdict. “I feel it puts every single black child in jeopardy from any vigilante who may have a gun. It just is inexcusable. We can’t just leave it at that. Something has to come of it that’s positive.”
Protesters criticized the absence of any blacks on the jury.
“It was basically a slap in the face,” said 41-year-old Chicagoan Jermaine Maxwell of the verdict. “They just let him walk. If it wasn’t Trayvon, it could have been my nephew, associates of mine or even me. Change does need to happen.”
Zimmerman, had faced a possible conviction of second-degree murder or manslaughter. His attorneys argued he acted in self defense after the two became involved in an altercation.
The shooting occurred after a police dispatcher instructed him not to follow Martin. Martin’s family and civil rights leaders had accused him of racial profiling and criticized police for failing to arrest Zimmerman until 45 days after the killing and following protests.
The NAACP has launched a petition drive calling on the U.S. Justice Department to file civil rights charges in the case.
The department said it’s looking into the case to determine whether such charges should be filed.