Hundreds in Baltimore demand justice for slain teen Trayvon Martin, changes to judicial system that allowed his killer to walk free
JAISAL NOOR, TRNN PRODUCER: Across the country, thousands have taken part in protests against the not-guilty verdict in the high-profile murder trial of George Zimmerman.
On Saturday July 14, a Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African-American teenager Zimmerman followed, shot, and killed.
Since the verdict came down, actions calling for justice for Martin have been held in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Oakland, among other cities nationwide. Actions were also held in Baltimore on Sunday and again Monday.
Here are the voices of some of those who took part.
NOOR: Why are you here today?
RAQUAN, NINE-YEAR-OLD PROTESTER: For Trayvon Martin and justice. That man didn’t have no reason to kill him. He just wanted–he got his cousin some Skittles and he got his own self a iced tea. So he was walking home. And he screamed for help. They say he missed him the first time and screamed. So why did nobody help him?
ADRIANNA EBRON, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: I’m here especially for my fourth-grade students and for my brother who is thirteen years old who is someone that definitely goes through racial profiling on an everyday basis. And I just feel that, you know, the case was definitely unfair. I think that the case happened–I think that the trial happened simply because they wanted to say, okay, we want to give you guys a trial. But there wasn’t any justice served with the trial. And I just believe that Trayvon had his right to defend himself. And if he felt that he was being attacked, then he had every need to defend himself against George Zimmerman.
SHAWAN, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: I’m here for justice. I felt like that a child was gunned down and the state of Florida has let two child murderers set free. So there is no justice. And if you make it racial, then you feel that it’s just us and no justice at all, just us. So that’s why we’re here today, for all the Trayvon Martins throughout the United States and all over the world.
NOOR: I heard someone say there’s a Trayvon Martin in every city and every state of this country.
SHAWAN: And it is true. It is. It is a Trayvon Martin in every city, every part of the country. We’re all Trayvon Martin. You suspect, so I guess you’re Trayvon Martin in the wrong neighborhood.
NOOR: Twenty-four-year-old public school teacher Adrianna Ebron sees local parallels in the acquittal of George Zimmerman in Florida. She cites the recent trial of Baltimore County Police Officer James Laboard, who was accused of choking to death unarmed 17-year-old Christopher Brown.
EBRON: I definitely think in Baltimore, for example, just back in–this February, actually, a young man was choked to death in Baltimore County by a police officer. The case, the court case actually was a couple of weeks ago, and the person was–and the police officer was let off innocent. And the man didn’t even–and the man, the police officer that killed him, was actually off-duty, but he did nothing. He didn’t call 911. He didn’t try to resuscitate him. And so that’s just one of many examples.
NOOR: Many parents took their children to the action, including this Baltimore resident, who did not want to be named.
PROTESTER: And it’s kind of a slap in the face. And the unfortunate thing is, even though Trayvon brought it to light, I’ve heard that it happens to numerous black boys across this country in many different cities and many different states. And as a mom, I felt like I really needed to let my voice be heard, that as a mother of black boys it’s not okay to tolerate that and to allow that type of an injustice to be committed against a son, someone’s son, someone’s grandson, and allow that individual to get away with it. That’s just not what this country is about. We’ve progressed, we’ve come a long way, and I understand we have a lot further to go, but this was a step backwards. And I think as a people we can come together to move forward past this. And it’s going to take the people, the citizens of the United States of America, to get past this.
NOOR: Many, argue Zimmerman’s acquittal highlights the need to challenge conservative-backed laws that make it easier to obtain and carry firearms, as well as measures such as “stand your ground” backed by American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC.
SHAWAN: The dumb gun laws needs to change. It’s the Republican [incompr.] that gun laws, “stand your ground”, it’s a bunch of laws that needs to be changed, that the Republicans and the National Rifle Association needs to change these laws, ’cause this is where you find the problem at with the guns. George Zimmerman, person who legally had a right to carry a gun–a child is dead. It’s not the first time.
NOOR: And he’s getting his gun back.
SHAWAN: I’m not surprised, because he did nothing wrong. He did nothing wrong. So why wouldn’t he get his gun back? He already said he’d do it again.
NOOR: Some, like Baltimore resident Sharon Lindsay, say they are afraid that Zimmerman walking free after attacking and killing an unarmed Martin means it’s “open season” on young black men across the country.
SHARON LINDSAY, BALTIMORE RESIDENT: The verdict set a precedent for anyone with hate in their heart to go out and methodically set up a situation where they can kill someone and they call it self-defense. These three young men are my sons, and they are Trayvon Martin. And it is not right to kill someone or methodically set up to kill someone because you hate them. You can have a bald head, for gender, religious, whatever. He methodically arranged that, orchestrated that to kill this young man, and that set a precedent for anyone who lives in Florida to do that. And that’s why I’m here, for justice for everyone.
NOOR: Organizers have called for a third straight day of protests in Baltimore on Tuesday.
Reporting For The Real News, this is Jaisal Noor.