WASHINGTON – In 100 cities all over the country, thousands of people turned out for “Justice for Trayvon” rallies. And in Seat Pleasant, Md., about 50 people started at the Addison Road Metro station and walked nearly 10 miles to the Department of Justice and the U.S. District Court. There, they were greeted by more than 1,000 protesters who want an end to violence and racial profiling in the United States.
“Nothing you have going on today is as important as history being made right now,” says Jonathan Hutto, from the Prince George’s County People’s Coalition, who organized the rally. “Overwhelmingly, disproportionately black lives are on the line today. No one is safe. We’re saying enough is enough; all lives are precious.”
The protesters want federal civil-rights charges to be filed against George Zimmerman, who was acquitted in a Florida court last week in the killing of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin. Jonathan’s wife, Yolanda Hutto, held a sign that read, “The American criminal justice system at its best” with two pictures – one of Michael Vick who was sentenced to 23 months in prison for dog-fighting charges, another of Zimmerman.
Marine veteran Justin Rodriguez says Martin’s death could have been prevented. “There’s no reason why this stuff should happen. It’s not just a race thing; it’s a human being thing. It shouldn’t happen to humans. Period.”
Rodriguez blames Florida’s Stand Your Ground law and wants it repealed: “We can send our troops over to Iraq, but we can’t have any justice here for kids who get shot for no reason,” Rodriguez says.
Not everyone thought George Zimmerman was guilty. Adam Abadir says the jurors were fair, but the laws on the books are not. “The justice system as we have it worked the way it was designed to work. So the question is not a matter of the prosecution or the defense or the individual jurors; it’s a question of ‘What is the worth that one life has over another life?'” Abadir says.
“We are sick and tired of ‘Trayvon Martins’ happening all across the country. The Zimmerman verdict showed that black life doesn’t necessarily mean as much in this country as we might have thought it did.”
Joshua Brown, 14, says this case hits him close to home. “I feel unsafe; I have to watch where I’m going because I want to make sure I’m not the next victim,” Brown says.
Hutto used a bullhorn to motivate the crowd, calling the Department of Justice ‘the Department of Injustice.’ “It means that our government is not working for us. Historically our relationship with the government is one that has not worked on our behalf,” Hutto said.
“The case was a travesty,” he continued. “There was no one on that jury that looked like Trayvon Martin. No one on that jury could understand what black males live through every single day.”
As they walked down Constitution Avenue from the Department of Justice to the U.S. District Court, rally members chanted of “no justice, no peace” and, although organizers say they only want a peaceful demonstration, “racism means we’ve got to fight back.”