By Tandy James
On February 26, 2012, George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin were engaged in an altercation that resulted in the death of seventeen year-old Trayvon Martin. On July 13, 2013, Zimmerman was found not guilty of the death of Martin in Sanford, Florida by six female jurors. Outcries of the public were quickly heard only moments after the announcement of the verdict. A protest was held in Hunts Point on July 15, 2013 where local residents came out to support Trayvon Martin and speak out for minority justice.
On the late summer afternoon, Bronx residents came out to march in respect for Trayvon Martin. Despite the heat some protesters could be seen in hoodies while carrying Arizona Iced Tea. While walking down the streets of Southern Boulevard, protesters yelled out “No justice equals no peace!” There was a common theme of unity and a yearning for equality amongst the crowd.
“They should’ve had a racially and gender diverse jury,” says Ashley Tsegai a teenager getting a slice of pizza in the neighborhood.
She discusses what she thought were, “holes in the case”.Tsegai also adds,
“ I feel that because he was targeted because he was not black, it [the case] was blown out of proportion” Tsegai mentions that all of this was “powered by the prominent race factor” and she does not agree with the verdict.
Concurring with Tsegai, her older brother, Agazi Tsegai believes that the case was wrong and he couldn’t understand how Zimmerman was not found guilty for any of the counts put up against him.
“They’re in Florida, black folks don’t belong there”, he jokingly states after he was asked why he think the case went through as it did.
The eldest Tsegai later mentioned that Obama did the right thing in stepping in the situation.
“He had the power to do so… he’s(Zimmerman) gonna go to jail, definitely” says the eldest Tsegai.
In the midst of the crowd there was Mailyn Bingham, holding up a small poster while listening to speakers at the rally. When asked why she was there she simply said,
“ I have a seventeen year-old son, so I’m here for him, for Trayvon”
Many participants agree that race played a vital role in the case.
Bingham cleared up the message of the entire assembly as she states,
“We’re united and we’re not gonna tolerate this anymore.”
There was a universal sense of unity circulating around the crowd as Sherian Russell observed protesters with a toddler in tow.
“ The system always seems to work against us.” says Russell.
Russell also mentions that hopefully when they take Geroge Zimmerman to civil court we will see some justice.
One of the notable speakers present at the rally was Reverend Dr. Kahli Mootoo, a pastor at Bright Temple A.M.E. Church.
Reverend Mootoo says,” Every young man with baggy pants is not a drug dealer”
He adds that “we need to gather for social change and not wait for someone to get killed”
“ We need to be proactive not reactive”-Reverend Mootoo
While Reverend Mootoo was explaining things that our communities can do to be proactive he said that we needed to “teach our young people to interact with police and our police how to interact with urban kids”
He mentions that these are just the beginning steps to something greater.
Everyone who went out to Hunts Point today had a connection to Trayvon Martin. Although race was a large part in the protest, some participants mentioned something deeper.
James Frey, who says he has “ a lot of friends who live up here and suffer from police harassment”. He felt that every person counts .
“I think that as many people as possible need to take control of a basic condition of their lives… taking the streets is one way to do that.”
Freelance journalist Doris Kohn unknowingly concurred with participant Mailyn Bingham when she says “people are just united”
Kohn spoke for the people when she said,” We believe you cannot reform racism and capitalism, capitalism loves racism… put capitalism against racism and they’ll [the people] love it.
This small protest was just a fraction of the others going on across the nation. At least in Hunts Point people will fight for justice for Trayvon Martin.