DISPLAY OF DIVERSITY & DISSENT

Photo by Vinette K. Pyrce

In New York City and in 99 other cities in the USA, the recurring message during the Justice for Trayvon Martin rallies demonstrated diversity and dissent but mostly issued a plea for peace and justice for the teenager who was gunned down in Florida — by amplifying the “dream” of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington D.C. next month.

In Manhattan and across the nation, a multicultural gathering rallied to demonstrate disagreement with the acquittal of George Zimmerman. They assembled here outside the headquarters of the New York Police Department and there they paraded messages of solidarity and regret of the verdict.

A young Black child carried a sign reading: “I have a dream too.”

A man fronted one reading: “They never stop and frisk old white guys like me.”

And a young, white woman displayed her home-made replica of posters usually prominent in US post office by displaying the image of George Zimmerman with an alert that read: “Wanted for the murder of Trayvon Murder.”

Jamaican Angella Crooks arrived two hours before the rally. She was accompanied by her friend Sharon who she said was on a visit from the Caribbean island and whom she wanted to witness America’s rage and dissent against what she perceives to be an unjust verdict. Crooks said she felt compelled to show solidarity with the cause because she has a daughter attending college in the state of Kansas. She also said her reason for joining the crowds was because she believes racism was at the heart of the all women, majority white jury panel.

On the plaza a map of the United States marked all the states of the union. Legibly inscribed in black markings the words “Stand Your Ground” seemed to prompt individuals to inscribe personal messages across the geographic national borders beneath Canada.

At noon, when the temperature rose to what seemed like 96 degrees in the shade, pop singer Beyonce and her husband Jay Z waited for the arrival of Rev. Al Sharpton and Sybrina Fulton. The activist and mother had previously rallied uptown at the headquarters of National Action Network where community supporters packed the House of Justice to hear personal comments from the pair. Accompanied by her eldest son Jahvaris Fulton, attorney Benjamin Crump and others, the grieving mother arrived to cheers.

“We love you!”

“Stay strong!’

“No Justice, No Peace.”

On seeing the real life mother who has appeared graceful and God-fearing on television, some even cried.

Some wore hooded shirts designed by fabric which displayed the stars and stripes of the US flag. Others tried to communicate and identify with the slain youth by showing signs and messages reading:

“B37 Bullied The Jury”

“They never stop and frisk a white guy like me,”

“If they wont stop we wont stop”

Another sign read: “RIP Trayvon,

Ramarley/ Danny/ Kimani/ Kenneth/ Shantel/ Oscar, Alan”

Most prevalent were signs that promised “No Justice No peace.”

“Today, all over the country, we’re standing up,” Sharpton said.

“But nobody does it like New York.”

Rev. Sharpton amplified the latter message adding “I am Trayvon” to a chorus that repeated the identifying tribute.

He called for a challenge of “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida and the 20 other states where they are legal.

He also called for federal prosecutors to place charges against Zimmerman who was acquitted with his death gun returned.

Sharpton punctuated his message with a plea for support of the Aug. 24th commemorative 50th anniversary march on Washington DC.

“On behalf of all the 100 cities,” the activist and radio and television host said Fulton is the “mother of the movement.”

His introduction of the mother of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin drew rapt attention from the crowd.

The noise swelled, the heat pervaded and all eyes focused on the woman who has been making headline news since her son was gunned down last year February as he walked to his father’s home.

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