In Union Square, Another Call for Justice in Trayvon Martin Case

Trayvon Martin rally 1Jared Malsin

Some 200 protesters gathered in Union Square yesterday evening to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager shot dead by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida in February.

City Council Member Letitia James, of Brooklyn, was among those who participated in the rally. Referring to the hooded sweatshirt worn by the 17-year-old the day he died, she told The Local, “Today, all of us are Trayvon Martin, and today this powerful article of clothing is going to be transformed into an instrument for change, and for justice for this young man.”

The hoodie has become a national symbol following the Feb. 26 shooting in Sanford, Fla., inspiring everything from hooded church services to a tribute song by “Hoodie Guthrie.” On March 21 activists including members of the Occupy movement staged a “Million Hoodie March” that stepped off from Union Square.

Trayvon Martin rally 2Jared Malsin

Yesterday’s rally, organized by Transit Workers Union Local 100, came just hours after the special prosecutor tasked with investigating the killing announced she would not convene a grand jury in the case, a decision she said “should not be considered a factor in the final determination of the case.”

Larry Holmes, a 59-year-old activist with the group Occupy for Jobs, explained why he joined the demonstration. “Many of us are just outraged that Mr. [George] Zimmerman has not been arrested,” he said. “I mean, this is clearly a case of murderous racial profiling. Trayvon was guilty of two things – being young and black, hood or no hood.”

Mr. Holmes, who lives in Chelsea, said, “A lot of times, young black and brown people die, we don’t even find out about it, and it’s so sad because they died and their deaths seem to be in vain.”

Council Member James said the case has resonated in New York as a result of accusations of racial bias by police. She told The Local, “Obviously there’s a major issue in the City of New York related to stopping and frisking and the arrest of individuals for the minor possession of marijuana, and unfortunately a disproportionate number of African American men have been arrested as a result.”