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Across U.S., crowds rally for 'Justice for Trayvon'

By Bill Barrow

Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:58 a.m. HST, Jul 20, 2013

ATLANTA » One week after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin, people gathered for nationwide rallies to press for changes to self-defense laws and for federal civil rights charges against the former neighborhood watch leader.

The Florida case has become a flashpoint in separate but converging national debates over self-defense laws, guns, and race relations. Zimmerman, who successfully claimed self-defense, identifies as Hispanic. Martin was black.

The Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network organized the "Justice for Trayvon" rallies and vigils outside federal buildings in at least 101 cities: from New York and Los Angeles to Wichita, Kan., and Atlanta, where people stood in the rain at the base of the federal courthouse, with traffic blocked on surrounding downtown streets.

Most rallies were scheduled for noon local times. Hundreds of people — including music superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce, as well as Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton — gathered in New York.

Fulton told the crowd she was determined to fight for societal and legal changes needed to ensure that black youths are no longer viewed with suspicion because of their skin color.

"I promise you I'm going to work for your children as well," she said to the rally crowd.

At a morning appearance at Sharpton's headquarters in Harlem, she implored people to understand that the tragedy involved more than Martin alone. "Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours," she said.

In addition to pushing the Justice Department to investigate civil rights charges against Zimmerman, Sharpton told supporters he wants to see a rollback of stand-your-ground self-defense laws.

"We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again," Sharpton said.

Stand-your-ground laws are on the books in more than 20 states, and they go beyond many older, traditional self-defense statutes. In general, the laws eliminate a person's duty to retreat in the face of a serious physical threat.

Zimmerman did not invoke Florida's stand-your-ground law, instead relying on a traditional self-defense argument. Nor was race discussed in front of the jury that acquitted Zimmerman. But the two topics have dominated public discourse about the case, and came up throughout today's rallies.

Part of Sharpton's comments echoed those made by President Barack Obama on the case yesterday. "Racial profiling is not as bad as segregation, but you don't know the humiliation of being followed in a department store," Sharpton said.

In Indianapolis, the Rev. Jeffrey Johnson told about 200 attendees that the nationwide effort is about making life safer for young black men. Johnson said young black men still are endangered by racial profiling, and he compared Zimmerman's acquittal to that of four white officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King in 1992.

"The verdict freed George Zimmerman, but it condemned America more," said Johnson, pastor of the Eastern Star Church in Indianapolis and a member of the board of directors of the National Action Network.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that his department would investigate whether Zimmerman could be charged under federal civil rights laws. Such a case would require evidence that Zimmerman harbored racial animosity against Martin. Most legal experts say that would be a difficult charge to bring.

Holder said the shooting demonstrates the need to re-examine stand-your-ground laws.

Associated Press writers Verena Dobnik in New York and Charles Wilson in Indianapolis contributed to this report.

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Kailuaraised wrote:
Race baiting is getting old. This is 2013. I think these rallies do more harm than good.
on July 20,2013 | 09:01AM
Aloha_State wrote:
You said it right Kailuaraised. C'mon people...stop playing the poor me "victim" mentality already. Everytime things don't go your way it's because of your race. This goes for more then african americans...we see all types of "minorities" in the islands use the same race card everytime. Let's face it...pretty much EVERY race was oppressed at some point in history. You don't hear Japanese or Jews claimimg racist (when they were both sent to internment camps in the past). Women in general were oppressed but dont hear them using the "sexist" card. Saddest part of all this is seeing our leaders teach the children how to play the victim card to get what they want instead of sucking it up, moving on, and being better. Glad I didn't vote Obama at all!
on July 20,2013 | 01:11PM
frontman wrote:
Justice for a dope smoking person who attacked a person who lived in the neighbor hood???? The jury was right, he chose to practice his AMA on the wrong guy
on July 20,2013 | 02:11PM
Tarball wrote:
Zimmerman was so obviously "not guilty" . . . . . justice was served!
on July 20,2013 | 09:34AM
allie wrote:
Latino vs. black violence is very common on the mainland. We have different problems here with Micronesians hating Hawaiians and vice versa.
on July 20,2013 | 09:40AM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Micronesians hating Hawaiians and vice versa" ........... allie is a Micronesian.
on July 20,2013 | 01:37PM
Pookie_Baby wrote:
Where was the protests when OJ was set free?
on July 20,2013 | 09:44AM
NanakuliBoss wrote:
Ojays in jail.Allie go flip some pizzas.
on July 20,2013 | 09:55AM
allie wrote:
I am paid to tell the truths others dare not tell. Why do you want to hide from things?
on July 20,2013 | 12:20PM
aomohoa wrote:
You are paid to stir things up and get people going. I am glad you finally admit what you really are. I paid blogger and nothing more. That just tells the lack of quality of SA. No credibility like you. Now who don't you admit your real age and if you are an old man?
on July 20,2013 | 02:13PM
turbolink wrote:
allie, if you were charged with having commit truth and humility, there wouldn’t be enough evidence to convict you on either count.
on July 20,2013 | 02:53PM
haroldwah wrote:
We would have been called "RACIST"
on July 20,2013 | 11:20AM
Kuniarr wrote:
The OJ trial was the beginning of the use of DNA evidence to exonorate hundreds of Blacks wrongly convicted.

At this point in time, people should by now been educated in the precedence of DNA evidence over "mountain of evidence" that have wrongly convicted and imprisoned hundreds.
on July 20,2013 | 11:23AM
noheawilli wrote:
Where have these people been? Uh there was a trial, and the jury found the accused not guilty. What do they a pound of innocent flesh?
on July 20,2013 | 10:19AM
earlson wrote:
Not surprising since Pres. Obama indirectly if fanning the fire. Makes me wonder why I voted for him. His back handed slap at Hawaii ... the same thing could have happened to him 35 years ago when he was attending Punahou?
on July 20,2013 | 10:31AM
kailua000 wrote:
I've lost all hope in him, I was so excited when he was running, I voted for him twice and now I wonder why. And remember, he does NOT call Hawaii home, he calls Chicago home.
on July 20,2013 | 12:19PM
Kailuaraised wrote:
Indirectly? I would say it's pretty direct.
on July 20,2013 | 10:36AM
Rickyboy wrote:
How's about justice for Zimmermen !.
on July 20,2013 | 10:39AM
cojef wrote:
Headlines ferment racial divide and broaden the chasm further. Our Nation was founded on laws and this case was adujudicated with a not guilty verdict. To echo the the demonstration verbage for the uniformed or those that did not follow the trial is to play into hands of the activists who want to justify their existence as Black civil rightists. The FbI spent many months investigating whether Trayvon Martin's civil rights violated and returned with a finding that his rights were not violated. To placate the Black population, the Governor appointed a special prosecutor. The special prosecutor after calling for a Grand Jury hearing, cancelled the hearing and immediately proceeded to file 2nd Murder charges against G Zimmerman, overriding the Grand Jury. The trial proceeded under these circumstances which favored the prosecution, yet there were no voices raised on behalf of G. Zimmerman. After all the disadvantages were against him, and after the verdict was rendered, it is travesty to question the jury's verdict, just because the case as tried did not meet with activists private expectations. These demonstrations and vigils are not helping to cement the racial divide, and even if it exist, what affect will be accomplished other than to ferment further divide. The law is the law and not affected by emotions one way or the other.
on July 20,2013 | 10:40AM
allie wrote:
on July 20,2013 | 12:19PM
RichardCory wrote:
"Headlines ferment racial divide..." The word you are looking for is "foment."
on July 20,2013 | 12:48PM
Mythman wrote:
In Florida they didn't need the grand jury to indict......
on July 20,2013 | 01:30PM
Grimbold wrote:
The racial divide is justifyable. Living in a black neighborhood is extremely dangerous - not because of racism but because of the inhabitants.
on July 20,2013 | 02:17PM
Ronin006 wrote:
The judicial system worked as it was supposed to in the Zimmerman case. He was charged, tried by a jury, and was found not guilty. Move on.
on July 20,2013 | 10:42AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Zimmerman has moved on. And in hiding. He will be forever moving on. And hiding. ......(Or else).
on July 20,2013 | 01:25PM
Graham wrote:
Obama, Sharpton, Jackson, protesters and the media including the SA and local TV stations overlook the Black-on-Black killings in Chicago, LA, Phillie, Atlana, etc...
on July 20,2013 | 10:43AM
fshnpoi wrote:
exactly what i've been wondering, with all the black on black killings every year why is there no huge rallies to stop it?
on July 20,2013 | 01:00PM
tobyclairmont wrote:
Our nation DOES have a problem with racism. To a degree, the same is true for Hawaii (e.g. recent remarks made at Deedy trial). However that does NOT make Zimmerman guilty. Both of these individuals (Zimmerman and Martin) exercised poor judgment none the less. Many individuals can (and often do) exercise poor judgment while still remaining within the bounds of the law. Emotional outrage solves nothing, it only muddles the truth.
on July 20,2013 | 11:37AM
hanalei395 wrote:
Re. toby: "Our nation DOES have a problem with racism". ......... That's because "our" nation was CREATED by .....Slavery ........ by America's "Manifest Destiny" ....... by White Supremacy ..... etc.
on July 20,2013 | 02:00PM
aomohoa wrote:
The black Africans sold the blacks to the plantation owners.
on July 20,2013 | 02:15PM
Grimbold wrote:
Why does all of Haiti want to come to our nation and flee from the one they have created?
on July 20,2013 | 02:19PM
tobyclairmont wrote:
The past is the past. So many people spend their time looking behind them and failing to see the potential of what is in front of them. Slavery is gone. What remains are people who feel and act like victims.
on July 20,2013 | 02:58PM
ufried wrote:
on July 20,2013 | 11:43AM
allie wrote:
we do
on July 20,2013 | 12:19PM
aomohoa wrote:
As usual you speak for other not just yourself. You try to associate and attach yourself to others because others don't want to associate with you, I would imagine.
on July 20,2013 | 02:17PM
kailua000 wrote:
Why are all the other crimes in this country not covered? I just read that in Florida the stand your ground law was used successfully by 66% of blacks and 64% of whites. so if they repealed this law, would it not be racially biased against blacks. Im just tired of this. Our president made it worse. As if when a group of Samoan teens or a group of latinos, and yes, even a group of white guys with tattoos and piercings walks by a car,Aunties doors dont lock. Its not just black. Poor Obama, he was so discriminated against at Punahou growing up.
on July 20,2013 | 12:18PM
Mythman wrote:
Every time Barry went down to Pucks after school to score some blow and weed he was treated poorly by the folks down there due to his skin color. And then, the Fairy Princess was whisked away on a Unicorn, never never to be seen again on the islands of Paradise, forever and forever.........
on July 20,2013 | 01:34PM
kailua000 wrote:
if whites had someone like Sharpton he would be considered racist. why is the press and the PRes not talking about the black kids who kill eachother every day. why is he not talking about the little white boy in his stroller getting shot point blank by two black teens ? this country was supposed to get better with obama, not worse. now he cant run again, so now we are seeing his true colors. and someone needs to remind obama that he has something in common with zimmerman that the press forgets. the left press calls him a white-hispanic, or white. then our president should be addressed as the white-black president, as Morgan Freeman said, he's not our first black president, he is our first mixed race president. and that was supposed to benefit our country.
on July 20,2013 | 12:23PM
Palakika wrote:
Obama could not have been Trayvon thirty-five years ago. If he had been suspended from Punahou his white grandparents would have had him on lock down not roaming the streets in a hoody buying Skiddles. This whole mess with Trayvon and George was just the perfect storming coming together and culminating a horrid tragedy for all involved. Failures by many to make the right choices. I can not see how President Obama's remarks further a dialog. They seemed divisive and accusatory.
on July 20,2013 | 01:06PM
Mythman wrote:
Again skittles plus arizona tea plus robitussin's active ingredient makes something the hip hop culture calls "drank" which is sipped to make one high. So Barry is a lot like the deceased in that they both like to get high using narcotics.....
on July 20,2013 | 01:36PM
ryan02 wrote:
Race is not the reason to repeal "Stand Your Ground Laws." They should be repealed because they are stupid. Neither Zimmerman nor Martin was doing anything illegal that night. Martin was walking around wearing a hoodie, and Zimmerman was doing neighborhood watch. Zimmerman thought Martin was acting suspicious (based on what, other than his race, I don't know, but I accept that Zimmerman truly thought Martin was acting suspicious). Martin thought Zimmerman was stalking him. Simple misunderstanding between two people, but with "Stand Your Ground" laws, one of them was bound to end up dead. If Martin had a gun, he'd be justified in shooting Zimmerman dead, wouldn't he, because he was being stalked by a man with a gun, and Martin could easily have been concerned for his safety. And Zimmerman did end up shooting Martin. Laws that encourage such an outcome (one of two innocent men ending up dead, simply because they viewed the other person fearfully) are not "just."
on July 20,2013 | 01:43PM
JFWhite wrote:
Zimmerman was on Neighborhood Watch, not Police Duty. He was suspect of Martin, but did not see him break any laws. He did not stand down when he continued to pursue Martin; Zimmerman was armed with a gun and pursued an unarmed teen who was lawfully in the neighborhood. Had Zimmerman waited for the Police, rather than confront the suspect this whole story would be different. No way is a bag of Skittles as powerful a weapon as a gun. Zimmerman should have at least been charged and convicted of Manslaughter.
on July 20,2013 | 01:44PM
aomohoa wrote:
That is exactly what happened and exactly how I see it:)
on July 20,2013 | 02:19PM
frontman wrote:
Justice for a dope smoking person who attacked a person who lived in the neighbor hood???? The jury was right, he chose to practice his AMA on the wrong guy
on July 20,2013 | 02:10PM
McB0B wrote:
Crowds? There are bigger turn outs when Nike introduces a new sneaker.
on July 20,2013 | 03:42PM
EwaWarrior wrote:
Al Sharpton, doing more to keep the brothers down!
on July 20,2013 | 04:17PM
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