NAN holds Trayvon Martin rally and protest
By Derek Joy
The Miami Dade Chapter of the National Action Network held a rally in honor of Trayvon Martin at the Judge Wilkie Ferguson Federal Courthouse.
A coalition of ministers including NAN National President and Founder Rev. Al Sharpton and Miami Dade Chapter President Bishop Victor T. Curry, offered prayer and damning words against the George Zimmerman acquittal.
Zimmerman profiled Martin, pursued the 17-year-old Miami Gardens resident against the warning of Sanford Police Department dispatcher. He got out of his vehicle and confronted Martin, who was not engaged in any criminal activity.
An altercation ensued. Zimmerman pulled his 9mm hand-gun and shot and killed Martin on Feb. 26, 2012, as he returned to his father‘s – Tracy Martin’s residence from a nearby convenience store.
He claimed self defense under Florida’s controversial “Stand Your Ground” law.
Zimmerman wasn’t arrested until 44 days later, after a nationwide petition garnered more than two-million signatures. A jury of five white women and one Hispanic woman acquitted him.
“In the words of the late Paul Harvey, “That’s not the end of the story. It’s the beginning of the story”,” said Curry.
“It’s a wakeup call. After the 2008 election of Barack Obama as President we became optimistic. We thought we had turned the racist corner. And because of that optimism a lot
of us checked out.”
“We fell asleep when it came to social justice. We were partying. And while we were partying the Tea Party came in and set out to make Obama’s Presidency a nightmare. The reason we’re going to shout is because Trayvon Martin can’t shout,” Curry added.
Martin’s death, and Zimmerman’s recent acquittal, has created polarizing controversies centered around cries of racism from white and Black Americans.
Amid the social awakening are widespread calls for dialogue and discussion of the attending circumstances of Martin’s death, as well as the need, or lack thereof, for the “Stand Your Ground” law.
“It’s going to take the com-munity, led by prayer, led by God to change this landscape in Tallahassee and Washing-ton. We need to understand that our Black boys are citizens. Let’s work to change some things in America,” said Florida State Representative Cynthia Stafford (Dem., D-109).
While a tunnel vision view of Martin’s death and Zimmerman’s acquittal can easily be seen as racial for the supporters of both sides, a broader perspective considers one’s right to walk home, on any street in America, without being pursued, harassed and killed.
“I think so. It was a stacked deck,” replied Chuck Jones, a Liberty City resident who attended the rally, when asked about the Zimmerman trial and verdict. I’ve been on a jury before. There were no Blacks on that jury.”
“You have to do things like this (rally and protest) to get things changed. It’s a good thing they’re having this today. And I’m going to Washington next month for that march.”
The rally in Downtown Miami was just one of many throughout the nation. Sharpton as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., 50 years ago, will lead a march on the nation’s Capitol Aug. 24.
Meanwhile, Curry said NAN, the Miami Dade Chapter of the NAACP and the Ministers’ Coalition will be holding strategy meetings at New Birth Cathedral of Faith, Aug. 23-25.
“Nothing changes until we get sick and tired of being sick and tired. It Gov. Rick Scott won’t change the “Stand Your Ground” law we’ll change Governors. Pastors, we’ve got to talk about a boycott. We can’t just let others talk about a boycott and we’re not in on it,” said Curry.
Mention of the boycott is in reference to a quiet under-current that has been spreading since the Koch Corporation publicly committed to paying Zimmerman’s legal defense costs, reportedly because they believe in Zimmerman’s right to own a firearm.
However, the call to stop buying Koch products, as well as a call to not spend any money in white businesses on Aug. 23, is based on a belief that Martin had the right to not be pursued and killed without provocation.
“My heart and prayers are with the Martin family,” said Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson, (Dem, D-24), following the Zimmerman verdict. “A simple fact remains: A young boy is dead.
“I encourage Trayvon’s parents to pursue vindication of their rights under civil law. I will support the family in any way possible. I will continue to fight for justice for Trayvon,” added Wilson, who attended the rally.