Boston Reacts to Zimmerman Acquittal with Dudley Square Rally and March (Updated)
15 July 2013 - 4:13pm
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by Jonathan Adams and Sarah Betancourt (Staff)
BOSTON/Roxbury - A mix of disbelief, anger, a loss of faith in the justice system, and resilience were on display Sunday as Boston reacted to the verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Over 700 people gathered in Dudley Square following the not guilty verdict at the Sanford, Florida courthouse Saturday.
The racially diverse crowd gathered to hear speeches by people of color in the traditionally African-American Boston neighborhood of Roxbury.
March photos by Sarah Betancourt
Holding ice tea and Skittles as a tribute to Trayvon Martin, resident of Roxbury, Noni Still-Brodie told Open Media Boston, “I felt very sad and disappointed, and confused, as to why they found him not guilty, because he said it himself that he has killed Trayvon, and they just let him walk out, and I was just so devastated.”
Referring to the court case, Nomi said “The whole thing was just terrible; they did it so sloppy and it’s just one hundred per cent wrong.”
There with Nomi, Storm Ervin, who is visiting from the Midwest, said, “I just thought, you know, you murder someone, you admit you murder someone, you would imagine that this murderer would go to jail.
“I guess I had faith in the justice system, I wanted to have faith in the justice system … and last night it just blew it, just blew it,” continued Storm.
The 17 year-old Martin was walking in a gated community in Sanford after buying a packet of Skittles and a can of ice tea when he was followed and approached by Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer with hopes of becoming a police officer.
An altercation ensued between Zimmerman and Martin – the exact circumstances of which were at the heart of the trial – that would leave the boy dead of a gunshot wound to the chest.
The jury of five white women and one black woman found the defendant Zimmerman not guilty of second degree murder and also acquitted him of manslaughter.
A national petition started by the NAACP, calling for civil charges against George Zimmerman, has garnered more than 600,000 signatures in one day. On Sunday, the Department of Justice said that it was reviewing the case to see if any federal criminal civil rights statutes have been violated.
Speaking to the crowd gathered in Dudley Sq., Khury Petersen-Smith from Dorchester said, “The truth is George Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin and then this criminal justice system killed Trayvon Martin again.
“Only in America would a young black man be put on trial for his own murder, it was not George Zimmerman on trial, it was Trayvon Martin on trial,” he continued. , “This is not the dream of Martin Luther King. This is Malcolm X’s worst nightmare.”
One woman, who identified herself as “a 23-year old mother, proud to be black,” said, “Not even a year after Trayvon Martin was killed, Jordan Davis was killed for playing his music too loud at a gas station. And the man who killed him, drove home, and when the police found him to ask him what happened, he said, ‘what was I supposed to do? They defied me.’”
This refers to the Jacksonville, Florida case where black 17-year-old Jordan Davis was allegedly killed by Michael Dunn, 46. Dunn fired multiple shots into Davis’ SUV upon hearing what he later called, “thug music.” Dunn and his girlfriend drove away from the scene. He later invoked Florida’s notorious “Stand Your Ground” law, claiming that he felt is life was threatened by the teens in the vehicle. He is currently being charged with first-degree murder and multiple counts of attempted murder.
One activist said, “The world was shocked about what happened at the Boston Marathon, and I was too. But do you realize how many shootings have happened since the Marathon? 85. I do know we need to get involved in our community. There’s a mayoral race this year. Get up on it. There’s a city council race. Get up on that. Find the issues in your community and government that are allowing Zimmerman to be a free man now.”
Some local politicians spoke at the rally, including Boston City Councilors Charles Yancey and Tito Jackson, State Representative Gloria Fox, a representative of Roxbury, and mayoral hopeful YouthBuild USA staffer Charlotte Golar Richie.
There was a small police presence at the Boston rally - which was covered widely by news media. It was one of many similar events that were held across the nation following the jury verdict.
A march from Dudley Square to the Ruggles Orange Line MBTA stop and back followed the rally.
March photos by Sarah Betancourt
Following the rally, over 800 people marched peacefully from Dudley Square to the Ruggles Orange Line MBTA stop chanting, “We are Trayvon Martin,” and “We are Burrell Ramsey-White.”
Ramsey-White, a young 26 year old black male from Dorchester, was shot and killed last August by an unknown Boston Police officer. Russell-White was shot after allegedly fleeing a traffic stop, according to the Boston Police Department. A third-party witness was sought, and the case is undergoing investigation by District Attorney Dan Conley’s office.
Editor's Note: This article was updated with extra coverage by Sarah Betancourt on 7/16/13.