As Many Protest Shooting, Police Barricade Union Square Park Again

Photos: Tim Schreier

More than a thousand people rallied in Union Square on Wednesday evening with the parents of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager who was shot dead in Florida in late February. The protest, dubbed “A Million Hoodies March for Trayvon Martin” on Facebook and elsewhere, attracted an angry and racially diverse crowd of New Yorkers.

“We’re not going to stop until we get justice for Trayvon,” Tracy Martin told the crowd of his son, according to The Lede. “George Zimmerman took Trayvon’s life for nothing.” Mr. Zimmerman, a white Hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer, shot the teenager after telling a 911 dispatcher he had seen a “black male” who “looks like he’s up to no good.” A controversial self-defense law has kept him from being charged

The Union Square demonstration evolved first into an energized march northward: The crowd cheered and clapped as it moved through traffic, while puzzled pedestrians and outdoor café patrons snapped photos on mobile phones. It then split into a pair of fast-moving marches – one ending in Times Square, the other going south on Broadway, then turning east on Astor Place, then south on Lafayette, and later back to Broadway, where it proceeded to the financial district, passing Zuccotti Park where the demonstration thinned out and eventually dispersed.

Later, protesters regrouped in Union Square, where the Trayvon Martin contingent eventually gave way to a crowd more closely identified with Occupy Wall Street. By 10 p.m., as dozens of police cruisers, vans, and paddy wagons were deployed, it became evident that the police were preparing to shutdown Union Square Park for a second night in a row.

At midnight, when police gave the order to disperse and erected metal barriers, the demonstrators simply moved out of the way and began a series of counterclockwise marches on the broad sidewalks on the perimeter of the square. No one was reported arrested.

“Occupy has had two battles from the beginning, one about Wall Street greed, and the other about the right to protest,” said Bill Dobbs, a gay activist and Occupy Wall Street spokesman. “Fighting for the right to protest, whether to march, to assemble, to use public spaces, to have a commons at all, is necessary so that the outcry about economic conditions, about Wall Street greed can be heard.”