Greensboro protests ‘not-guilty’ Zimmerman verdict
Yasmine Regester | 7/17/2013, 10:14 p.m.
- A mix of old and young, Black and White, spoke out against what they consider injustice and a violation of Trayvon Martin’s civil rights.
Six jurors in Sanford, Florida reached a not guilty verdict for Zimmerman in the shooting death of young teen Trayvon Martin in the late hours of Saturday night, July 13. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder felony in the shooting death of 17-year-old Martin; however, he asserted that he acted in self-defense and should be exempt from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.
Protest organizers estimate more than 300 demonstrators attended the march that began at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in downtown Greensboro and ended at the new Guilford County Jail.
Protestors carried signs that read, “We are all Trayvon. The whole system is guilty” and “Stop, or my Skittles will shoot!” Hundreds of signatures were collected at the rally on a banner to be sent to Sanford, Fla. this week in opposition to the not guilty verdict.
Tim Hopkins, community organizer and member of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said, “This put a target on the backs of young Black men. What happened to Trayvon was not an isolated incident. It happens in so many different ways throughout America. The youth, especially those of color, are in a very fragile position,” said Hopkins.
One banner filled with signatures from residents of Smith Homes, a Greensboro public housing complex, was sent to Florida last week.
“People are stunned to outraged over the decision of the jurors based on a self-defense justification,” said Rev. Cardes Brown, president of the Greensboro branch NAACP. “For more than 100 years, the role of the NAACP has been the watchdog, or the protector of the rights of individuals ensured by the constitution. We all see that it could’ve been anyone. Trayvon represents a lot of young minorities that are subject to racial profiling in their communities.”
The NAACP has called for a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the civil rights violations of Martin as well as pledging to continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground Laws in every state.
President and CEO of the NAACP, Benjamin Todd Jealous said, “We are outraged and heartbroken over the verdict. We stand with Trayvon’s family and we are called to act. We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground Laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed.”
In June 2011, the N.C. General Assembly tacked on a Stand Your Ground provision onto the state’s Castle Doctrine. It took effect December 2011. This means a person no longer is legally required to first retreat from a fight. It allegedly offers protections to North Carolinians reasonably protecting themselves from violence. It states, “...a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat in any place he or she has the lawful right to be.”