Q&A: Daniel Maree, Organizer of NYC 'Million Hoodies March'
Filmmaker and media maven says hoodie will change from 'symbol of suspicion to a symbol of empowerment'
Daniel Maree experienced the same feelings of outrage that many have expressed, after officials released the 911 tapes that are purported to include the last screams of help from 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
But instead of only re-posting to Facebook or transmitting to Twitter, the 24-year-old filmmaker and communications professional banded together with friends to organize a rally in support of justice for Martin, whose killer, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, has admitted to shooting the teen in a Sanford, FL gated community and has not been arrested by police.
Just after noon on Wednesday, Maree and a Martin family attorney confirmed Trayvon's parents will attend "A Million Hoodies March for Trayvon Martin" and speak to demonstrators. Maree took time to fill Loop 21 in on the genesis of this now nationally-recognized march.
Loop 21: Sanford, FL is more than 1,000 miles away from New York City. Why hold a rally there?
Daniel Maree: Really, the only answer is that I felt compelled to do something. I figure we can show solidarity no matter where we are, no matter what part of the world. Thanks to the power of social media … it so happened that a day after we called for the rally, it was announced that the FBI was going to be taking over the investigation. So it just kind of worked out that it became a national sort of thing.
Loop 21: When did you first get the idea and how quickly has it come together?
Maree: It was the exact same day (that Maree’s video was released). I read an (National Public Radio) article about Trayvon Martin, and listened to the (911 tape) recordings, and was so upset and outraged by it that I felt compelled to right a blog post about it. I got home from work and I was still feeling like there was more that I wanted to do.
Loop 21: During a conference call for organizers Tuesday night, there were several who voiced concern that the Occupy movement would overtake this demonstration and that the message of justice for black and brown people would be lost. How do intend to keep demonstrators on message?
Maree: I think that’s a question that on everybody’s mind. For me, this was organized independently of any other organization, or movement, or cause. This was me, my colleagues, and my friends getting together and deciding to take action. We’re honored that the Occupy movement would like to get involved and we welcome everybody’s involvement. I think it’s just a sign that there is deep discontent in our society right now and that goes across race lines, across socio-economic lines. That’s why you are seeing everybody come together in times like these.
Loop 21: Whom do you expect to turn out tonight? Is there a target audience you hope shows up in mass?
Maree: I’m really hoping to see young people. High school students here in the city, because Trayvon was 17-years-old. And when I think of his story and the emotion that I felt when I read about it, you know … it really took me back to my high school days and my youth. I spent a couple years in the south, in (Gainesville) Florida. And I remember experiences where I would be coming home late at night … riding my scooter home, and I would get pulled over by the police … for no other reason than because I was a young black man in a predominantly white neighborhood, gated community. I think a lot of young people of color can identify with that feeling and that experience.
Loop 21: For someone planning to participate, what should they expect?
Maree: Bring your raw emotions and your hoodies. Bring friends and (your) phones, so (you) can tweet (#millionhoodies), take pictures and record video while we are there. The whole purpose of the hoodie is to change it from a symbol of suspicion to a symbol of empowerment … and letting young people know that you can wear whatever you want. That, no matter who you are, you shouldn’t be judged as suspicious off the bat.
Loop 21: Anything else participants should keep in mind?
DM: Be mindful of why we’re gathering and the tragic circumstances that brought us here. Not that I think anybody needs reminding of that.
Starting at 6 p.m. ET, Loop21 (@theloop21) will be live tweeting “A Million Hoodies March for Trayvon Martin,” with the hash tag “#millionhoodies. Tweet your pictures and observation from the march in NYC or from any other demonstrations.