Thousands rallied in downtown Chicago yesterday to protest the acquittal and the victimization of an unarmed man, Trayvon Martin, who was stalked and killed by George Zimmerman. The National Action Network, led by civil rights activist, the Rev. Al Sharpton, organized the “Justice for Trayvon” rallies and vigils outside federal buildings in at least 101 cities: from New York and Los Angeles to Wichita, Kansas, and Atlanta. Chicago was one of those 101 cities. The “Justice for Trayvon” protesters gathered at the Dirksen Federal Building and dozens of speakers vowed “Justice for Trayvon.”
Speakers told the protesters that repeal of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws must be repealed. Still other speakers called for political action, including backing candidates that can bring about this type of change.
“I pray we will continue to be bold, that we stand our ground against the proliferation of guns, stand our ground against injustice,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor at St. Sabina Catholic Church in the Gresham neighborhood.
Rep. Robin Kelly was one of the speakers and encouraged the crowd to turn their passion into positive action to create change. Rep. Kelly won a special election this past spring with an emphasis on common sense gun legislation. “I am asking you not to forget. You need to hold all of our feet to the fire. We need to know the masses are behind us.”
Rev. Jesse Jackson said that because of the Zimmerman acquittal, justice for young black men have been diminished. “We are here today because our children now face diminished justice. We must boycott Florida and stop ‘stand your ground’ (laws).”
President Barack Obama also weighed in on the controversy recently. President Obama made one of his strongest statements on the issue of “race in America. He told the press gathering that “when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son.” He took the point a step further by saying that “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”
The question President Obama raised was “If Trayvon Martin was of age and armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?”
President Obama followed up his “what if” question with his own answer. “And do we actually think that he would have been justified in shooting Mr. Zimmerman who had followed him in a car because he felt threatened? And if the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we might want to examine those kinds of laws.”
Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, email@example.com.
John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns. John is an unpaid volunteer and social media advisor at Robin Kelly for Congress.