Trayvon Martin Protests in D.C. Are a Call For Political Action
Hundreds of people from all walks of life marched in Washington D. C. Sunday evening to honor slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.
The crowd gathered at 6:00 p.m. at Malcolm X Park, many expressing anger, pain, and frustration about the verdict.
The crowd grew to about 900 people as they marched from the park, also known as Meridian Hill Park, and down U Street, a major route lined with bars and restaurants. The marchers completely blocked traffic in one lane, and D.C. police stood by keeping them to one side of the street. Emotions were running high as people shouted, "no justice, no peace!" and other slogans, but the rally was completely peaceful.
"My son looks a lot like Trayvon Martin," one mother said to the crowd. "And he's only six. And I thought, in ten years, is someone going to profile him? What's going to happen, as he's 10, 11, 13, 14? My grandmother fought for this cause. My mother fought for this cause. I didn't think that in 2013 that I would be here fighting here for justice. Because we don't have it."
She asked the crowd to stop economically incentivizing companies that partner with the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), an organization that writes model legislation and recruits members of government to propose and pass them. ALEC crafted Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law but has since pulled back support for such legislation following public backlash after Trayvon's death.
She also urged attendees to register to vote and run for office.
"We need to vote, and we need to get these people out of power," she said. "And do you know what we need to do? We need to run for their seats. We need to see ourselves represented in office so this shit won't continue to happen."
Another man talked about how moved he was by the display of solidarity at the vigil.
"My understanding of black power and blackness is about the human liberation. None of us are free until all of us are free," he said to the diverse crowd. "No nation built on corruption, injustice, prejudice, and discrimination will ever stand."
There were rallies in cities across the nation Sunday, including New York, Oakland, and Los Angeles. There was also a smaller protest in D.C. Saturday night after the verdict was read.
Sunday's D.C. marchers were met with cheers, honks, and fists raised in solidarity from drivers and drinkers perched on balconies along the route. Many people on the sidewalk paused to watch and silently take pictures, and some joined as the crowd went by. The rally lasted about two hours and culminated at the Howard University campus on 7th street.
"Right now, though we are angry and though we are grieving, we are here together. There is nothing stronger than our collective," Taylor Davis, president of the Howard Chapter of the NAACP, said to the crowd before they dispersed. "Our power and our hope lies in our vote. The power is in our hands. We put them into office, and we can take them out."