Several Hundred Rally In Charlotte For Trayvon Martin
In uptown Charlotte Sunday night, several hundred people gathered to express grief and anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida who fatally shot teenager Trayvon Martin.
The crowd gathered around the Marshall Park fountain.
"We’re here tonight because we witnessed a tremendous injustice, right?" Loan Tran said as many in the crowd agreed and applauded. Tran is one of the organizers from the Charlotte Solidarity Center, a social justice group.
“Injustice” is how the demonstrators described the not guilty verdict in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
"I think it says a lot about the Charlotte community that we’re coming together as a community to allow our voices to be heard," Tyrone Thomas said. "To say, hey, this is a travesty in America, and it’s not only affecting black people, but it’s affecting white people, Hispanic people and Latino people. And we’re just coming together as one."
The crowd was largely African-American, but it also included the diversity Thomas just described.
Dozens of the demonstrators carried signs. Amber La Day brought simple cardboard ones with bold black letters.
"What do you mean not guilty" is a question that Cheryl Falzone kept coming back to, as well. She said she’s been through a range of emotions.
"Disbelief was first, when I actually heard the verdict," she said. "Then my heart became very heavy. My heart was very saddened."
Falzone said she felt angry, too. But she says you can’t let that emotion lead to violence, and many others in the peaceful rally echoed that thought.
"For us, we don’t have to do riots or violence," Travis Jackson said. "We should do things that are peaceful, things that are respectful and of class because we can fight all day – that’s not going to bring Trayvon Martin back."
Martin’s story has hit some parents in the crowd especially hard, like Aaron Tommie.
"Even though it happened in Florida, I think the fact that he was a teenager and he was just so young - there are a lot of parents out here, like us, and that’s one of the main reasons why we were just so impacted by it," Tommie said.
His wife, Malceline Ofon held their nine-month-old son in her lap.
"I took a picture of him in the car coming here," Ofon said about their son. "I want him to know that this happened when he was alive, and him to see that though people always say America has changed, there are still some things that are still the same."
The jury has made its decision. But Tommie said the case will continue to have an impact.
"This is not the only rally going on in the country," he pointed out. "I’m sure there are maybe hundreds of rallies going on throughout the country. I think out of a negative, people can come together and make a positive. I'm glad to be a part of that."