Justice For Trayvon Martin: Hundreds March Boston After Verdict

Protesters met in Roxbury on Sunday night before rallying in the streets in opposition of the trial's outcome.

Photo by Steve Annear

Photo by Steve Annear

For Anwar Luckman, the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.”

Luckman spoke to hundreds of protesters that gathered in Dudley Square on Sunday night for the “Justice for Trayvon Martin: Day of Decision Protest,” a rally organized on Facebook, and spurred by a Florida jury’s acquittal of George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed Martin in 2012.

“Shit is hitting the fan in this country,” said Luckman, who brought his bike with him to the protest as a symbol of racial profiling. Weeks prior to the jury’s decision, the 22-year-old Milton resident was arrested by police following an alleged scuffle, which started when officers tailed him based on his skin color as he rode his bike through affluent parts of Brookline late at night, he said.

Luckman was one of dozens of speakers at Sunday’s rally, which featured appearances by City Councilors Tito Jackson and Charles Yancey.

Yancey, a mayoral candidate, called for a moment of silence in the crowd during his speech, before drawing an uproarious response from attendees, chanting, “We are Trayvon Martin,” in a show of solidarity for the teen.

Speakers touched on a range of topics besides the Zimmerman trial such as racial inequality, social injustices, and the recent spate of shootings and gun-related violence in Boston.

There was a light police presence during the speaker portion of the protest in Roxbury as hundreds of demonstrators stood shoulder-to-shoulder, trying to ignore the sweltering summer heat, fanning themselves with fliers passed out to the crowd, and listening intently to people from the community. Some attendees donned hooded sweatshirts reminiscent of the one worn by Martin the night he was killed while others clutched bottles of iced tea and Skittles, the items that Martin had purchased at a convenient store moments before he was killed by Zimmerman during the altercation.

“This is an important issue not only for the minorities that live in Boston, but because [Trayvon] was somebody’s child—and it could have been anyone’s child,” said Sheila Burke, member of Ora’s Place, Inc., a non-profit group that promotes community services. “This is more than a ‘black and white’ issue. Zimmerman shouldn’t get away with murder. He should be charged with something. I think it’s great that the community came together to show support for Trayvon’s family, and fight a decision that was unfair.”

State Representative Gloria Fox said she hopes the protests bring civil justice to the Martin family and to people of color, through charges handed down by the Department of Justice. Boston’s protest was one of several that took place across the country over the weekend, one of which turned violent.

On Sunday, the DOJ acknowledged that they were probing the death of Martin and examining the case as it pertained to civil rights injustices.

Although a six-member Florida jury found Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and other charges at a state level, the DOJ said “experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation of any of the limited federal criminal civil rights statutes … and whether federal prosecution is appropriate.”

The DOJ’s statement came less than 24 hours after a national petition started by the NAACP, stating that Martin’s “right to life was violated” the night Zimmerman “stalked” the Florida teen, received hundreds of thousands of signatures. “We ask that the Department of Justice file civil rights charges against Mr. Zimmerman for this egregious violation,” the petition said.

Demonstrators at Sunday’s rally used the momentum started by the NAACP for their large protest when they hit the streets following the rally, and marched from Dudley Square to the Ruggles MBTA Station, amassing thousands along the way on Tremont Street, chanting in unision. “We have to put the pressure on so we can have the Department of Justice do its job, and bring George Zimmerman to trial,” said Yancey.