Local residents stage rally in reaction to Zimmerman verdict
A rally was held at CCB Plaza on Sunday evening that allowed area residents to express their outrage about the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin.
The impromptu event drew a diverse crowd that shared a frustration that many said stemmed from the apparent inequality and injustice the not guilty verdict represented.
Brother Ray Eurquhart said that prior to the verdict many social media sites had called for people to be ready to take action if a not guilty verdict was handed down by the jury.
“So people are taking action,” he said. “A lot of us were prepared for a not guilty verdict. We were hoping it wouldn’t come to that. You think about your peers being on the jury … were there any black people? Any working-class people? “
Durham Minister Paul Scott, founder of the New Righteous Movement, said the concerns were about more than the Zimmerman verdict.
“Not only was Zimmerman on trial,” he said. “All of us were on trial. We’re all having our Facebook monitored. We’re all having our Twitter monitored. It’s an injustice to Trayvon but it’s an injustice to all of us as well.”
The jury in Zimmerman’s trial was composed of six white women, a fact that Pastor John Leak also had a problem with.
“I have yet to see where he was tried by a jury of his peers,” Leak said. “They (jurors) have no concept of what it’s like to be an African-American in America. They cannot speak up and properly defend the rights of that (Martin) family or that child (Trayvon).
“It’s really a shame that for centuries this country has perpetuated philosophies that flow throughout the system to disenfranchise and even destroy young African-American male lives. This is just another story. “
The crowd of more than 100 people grew as the event continued, so of whom were drawn to the crowd as they were passing by. One of those people just passing through was Queneia Harley.
A teacher from Baltimore, Harley said that once she found out about the rally that she couldn’t stay away.
“I’m a single mother of three kids, two are black sons, in a country where being black ain’t never been right. I can’t even imagine how she’s (Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon’s mother) hurting right now,” she said through tears. “My heart aches for her. I am inspired by all of you here today.
“Now’s the time to wake up. Now’s the time,” Harley continued.
Signs in the crowd read: “No Justice. No Peace;” “Justice + Safety 4 Youth of Color;” “I am Trayvon Martin;” “I am not shocked. I am outraged! No justice. No peace. Only in America;” and a banner that read: “Smash White Supremacy! By any means necessary.”
Latashia Brown was wearing a black hoodie and holding a sign that read, “Zimmerman pursued Trayvon so how much ‘danger’ was he in? Not self-defense. Murder.” Brown said she watched the reading of the verdict Saturday night and was very disappointed.
“I felt it was wrong. It should have been an open and closed case. It makes no sense. If you’re in danger, you leave it, you don’t follow it.”
Brown added that this verdict is about much more than the death of Martin and the freedom of Zimmerman.
“It’s a statement that the justice system doesn’t really care about African-Americans, especially African-American males as a whole. If you go to trial, you won’t get justice.”
Southern High School Band Instructor Leonardo Williams was another rally participant who was passing by and joined the crowd. Accompanied by a 7-year-old African-American male he mentors, Williams said that he is glad he stumbled upon the rally.
“It’s (verdict) awakened so many people who were asleep in our society,” he said. “Let’s be sure that we are proactive and reactive. Let’s talk and work together despite our race, background, preference and build a better society.”