Marchers upset over acquittal
Ken Watts | 7/19/2013, 6 a.m.
In the wake of George Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict on July 13, more than 3,000 activists marched in Atlanta to show their displeasure with his acquittal in the Feb. 16, 2012, slaying of Trayvon Martin.
The Atlanta marches on July 14 and 15 were part of protests nationwide calling for justice for the Sanford, Fla., teen who was racially profiled and killed by the neighborhood watch captain while on his way home wearing a hoodie on a rainy evening with Skittles and a bottle of ice tea he had just bought at a store.
Many protesters in Atlanta and in New York, Boston, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco wore hoodies similar to the gray one Trayvon was wearing when he was shot to death during a scuffle with Zimmerman, who followed and accosted him as he walked through a white neighborhood to his father’s house.
They carried signs reading “I am Trayvon” and “No Justice, No Peace.”
A jury of six women handed down the unanimous verdict after deliberating 16 hours, agreeing with the defense that Zimmerman killed the teen because he feared for his life even though he provoked the attack. It said that race was not a factor in its decision.
On July 15, African-American and white protesters marched a three-mile route from the Clark Atlanta University campus to a rally outside the CNN Center organized by community groups calling for positive action to prevent future tragedies and expressing frustration over long-term issues of racial profiling, violence against black males and inequality in the courts.
Gregory Wiley of Atlanta lost a son to gun violence five years ago in Macon.
He was dressed like Trayvon and carried a sign with the words, “I wear this hoodie in honor and memory of Trayvon Martin.”
Wiley, 57, said he wasn’t there the night his son was killed.
“But I hear the shot all the time,” he said. “I’m sure Trayvon’s parents will be hearing ‘the shot’ for the rest of their lives. I’m praying for them.”
The scene was reminiscent of civil rights-era marches. It was far different from the night of April 29, 1992, when rioting broke out in Atlanta after the acquittals of Los Angeles police officers in the videotaped beating of black motorist Rodney King.
Police reported no incidents at the Atlanta marches.
Decatur attorney Mawuli Davis of the Davis Bozeman Law Firm, a co-organizer of the march, stood vigil outside the Sanford courthouse during the trial on July 9.
Davis said a new generation of blacks is learning an old lesson at high cost.
When he arrived in Sanford, he was shocked at what he didn’t see – demonstrators outside the courthouse.
“We didn’t have a presence there,” Davis said. “If you don’t have a presence, you don’t have influence where it counts – with the jury. It taught us a valuable lesson to be more proactive.”
March leaders included the Rev. Derrick Rice of the Sankofa United Methodist Church, former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell, and SCLC CEO Charles Steele.