Trayvon Martin's Family: ‘Our Son Is Your Son’
Thousands attend ‘Hoodie’ march in downtown New York City, where family validates their effort
As demonstrators arrived for a Wednesday evening march for Trayvon Martin, New York City police appeared to ready a set of barricades.
But the metal gates, the same kind used to shut out Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in Zucotti Park, sat untouched.
Those who gathered in Union Square, near the corner of 14th Street and Broadway, weren’t there to “occupy” anything. Thanks to quick planning by a few organizers, more than one thousand supporters turned out for the “Million Hoodie March” to demand justice for the unarmed Florida teen, who was gunned down by a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain in an Orlando suburb, just three weeks prior.
The “hoodie” became the symbol of empowerment, and not suspicion, as march creator Daniel Maree had envisioned. Via YouTube, Maree encouraged participants to where hoodies similar to the one Martin wore, which made the teen “look like he’s up to no good,” his killer told police.
Martin’s case became international news, after the release of 911 tape recordings from the Feb. 26 incident gave chilling detail to the final moment of his life.
“I have not heard the 911 tapes and I honestly don’t want to hear them,” said 26-year-old Kimberly White of New York. “I have heard what was on them and I don’t want to hear a 17-year-old crying for help before taking his last breath.”
Martin’s confessed killer, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, may have heard the fired-up crowd from where ever he was holed up, not in the custody of any law enforcement officials. The man with a reportedly violent past was questioned and released by Florida authorities, after claiming he shot the candy- and beverage-wielding teen in self-defense.
“We want an arrest! Now!” chanted the crowd, as organizers and speakers addressed the steadily growing crowd. Under an overcast sky, a few city politicians, community organizers and clergy issued searing rebukes of Zimmerman and Florida law enforcement agencies.
It didn’t seem to matter whether Zimmerman, the Sanford Police Department, or the FBI officials -- who this week promised to take over the investigation -- heard their unified voices.
The crowd was most overjoyed to salute Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, who parted the tightly packed crowd with their attorney, Benjamin Crump, in tow.
“When we fly back to Florida tonight, we can tell people that we are not alone,” Crump told the crowd, eliciting raucous round of cheers and applause. “Until you got involved, the Sanford Police Department was going to accept everything that (Zimmerman) said as the gospel.”
Tracy said his son Trayvon was a lot like the faces staring up at he and his son’s mother.
“If Trayvon had been alive, he would be right here on these steps with you guys, rallying for justice,” Tracy told the crowd. “Trayvon Martin was you. Trayvon Martin did matter.”
Fulton, who appeared to shake from nerves and grief for Trayvon, found the strength to give a very generous statement to the crowd.
“My heart is in pain, but to see the support of all of you really makes a difference,” Fulton said, choking back tears. “We need this kind of support. Our son was not committing any crime.”
“Our son is your son,” Trayvon’s mother concluded. Soon after, the family was quickly escorted away to a waiting SUV.
As the family parted the square, march organizers struggled to form and lead a cohesive group of hoodie-clad demonstrators to the next destination, which was supposed to be Washington Square Park.
Even as city police attempted to block the marchers at several points along their seemingly spontaneous route, the group pushed on, stopping evening downtown traffic along the way. They repeated many of the rally cries used in Union Square, and eventually end up right back there.
But the message was sent. The unarmed Florida kid, whose name many chanted into the night, had reminded the world that racial profiling can have dangerous consequences.