Calling for neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman’s arrest in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, the NAACP Florida State Conference evoked a protest march and rally Saturday, eliciting over 1,000 people.
A delegation of Flagler County’s NAACP, Volusia County residents and students at Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) was part of those converging on the Sanford Police Department after a half-mile march from Crooms Academy, noted during segregation for schooling U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings and former B-CU President Oswald Bronson.
The Flagler County NAACP, led by branch president and Florida State Conference secretary Linda Sharpe Haywood, shared in a refrain chanting “No justice. No peace.”
They marshaled support with NAACP President Ben Jealous, other NAACP leaders and luminaries – the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
Busloads from around Florida arrived in Sanford and were joined by others seeking justice, along with musical tributes.
The speakers demanded justice, working with the city manager to bring a clean house to Sanford and continuing the fight for the rights of all people. Various protesters carried “Justice for Trayvon” signs and wore T-shirts indicating “Hoodies Don’t Kill People, Guns Kill People.”
State Rep. Dwayne Taylor (D-Daytona Beach) was sighted among the speakers.
The crowd was encouraged not to grow weary in well doing: “for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not (Galatians 6:9).” The demonstration was orderly and detectable by at least five helicopters circling overhead. Any unrest, the result of a hoodie worn by the victim on the day that he was killed, was promptly soothed by the speakers in that no one should be judged by the clothing they’re wearing.
‘Register and vote’
The unarmed teen’s life was snuffed out by Zimmerman on Feb. 26, outside a Sanford gated community. During questioning by the Sanford police, Zimmerman claimed self-defense and was not charged.
“We come to make sense of this great tragedy and the entire world grieves with us,” NAACP Board Chairman Roslyn Brock said from the rostrum. “When the Sanford police did not arrest George Zimmerman, they essentially placed the burden of proof on a dead young man who cannot speak for himself.”
Brock told the crowd later to register and vote. “Your vote is the key that will unlock justice in this community,” she stated.
A statement released by the NAACP Florida State Conference decreed that “nothing shakes us more than the knowledge that Trayvon Martin’s killer, George Zimmerman, remains free. Trayvon’s senseless killing, and the city’s failure to bring his killer to justice, exemplifies patterns of racial profiling and the devaluation of Black men by law enforcement.”
“This is not about a hoodie, it’s about racial profiling,” Rev. Jackson reiterated.
“We live in the middle of an American paradox,” shouted Rev. Sharpton. “We can put a Black man in the White House, but we cannot walk a Black child through a gated neighborhood. We are not selling out, bowing out or backing down until there is justice for Trayvon.”
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.