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A Baltimore Rally Protesting The Trayvon Martin Killing
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Tuesday, March 27, 2012
It’s been a month since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed while returning from a convenience story, by George Zimmerman, a civilian neighborhood watch participant, who claimed self defense. The way the case was handled by Sanford, Florida police has led to national outrage and investigations. And as WYPR’s Art Buist reports, the case has hit a nerve in Baltimore.
The corner of Pratt and Light, was a sea of demonstrators and protest signs reading “Justice for Travon Martin” “We are all Travon Martin” “Say no to Racism” and others. As rush hour traffic moved along Pratt and Light, motorists and even MTA bus drivers honked with approval and the crowd shouted its encouragement. Around 5:15 the large crowd spilled out onto Pratt Street and across to McKeldin Square. The group had a permit to march to Police Headquarters and War Memorial Plaza. As the marchers filled Pratt Street, Hope Cabellero, of Brooklyn Park told WYPR why she was there.
“I came here because I feel like I want to make a stand for what happened to that young man in florida. And I feel like it could have been anybody’s son, and I just wanted to come out and support his family, and let ‘em know that us in America we’re not going to stand for just anybody shootin’. And that ‘stand your ground’ is stand your ground if you’re not black or brown.”
As with many of the participants Leroy Mobley, of Pikesville, had been following the case and learned about the rally on the internet.
“I’m just here to show my support for Trayvon and his family and hope that justice will be served in this situation.”
The protesters moved up Gay street and filled Fayette Street in front of the Police Headquarters. Old and young were there. Bula Williamson, of Glen Burnie, is a veteran of many civil rights marches, she hasn’t been out for years but this moved her. T
“I’m here because, but for the grace of God this could be me, or my husband, or my grand children. My husband and I have participated in marches for justice and peace since the sixties, and nothing much has changed, sadly.”
Garrison Forrest High School Senior, Kitt Brennan, was there with her friends Dafney & Megan. Kitt was active in the Occupy Movement and she said she has become much more aware of social issues in the last year.
“I think it’s just the education I’ve gotten this year at Garrison has really opened all of our eyes to the real realities that we often don’t want to face about race in America.”
As the crowd moved toward City Hall, nearly filling War Memorial Plaza shouts turned toward local problems.
“We’ve got Travon Martins right here in Baltimore City....”
The crowd pressed toward City Hall, where the Council had just finished its meeting. 14th District Councilwoman Mary Pat Clark was standing on the steps wearing a ‘hoodie’
“We have just completed a Council meeting in which we all wore our hoodies in honor and memory of Trayvon Martin, in solidarity with his parents, and with our nation.”
The Council also passed a resolution supporting legislation which Senator Ben Cardin has introduced to end racial profiling. One of the sponsors of the rally was the Baltimore Chapter of the NAACP. Tessa Hill-Aston is President of the organization and was thrilled with the turnout.
“We’ve gotten much more turnout than we expected, so I am elated. This is one of the best rallies that I’ve seen. Unfortunately it is for wrong reasons; I wish we could get rallies out for other issues that didn’t have to do with such a tragic situation. But it is such a good feeling to see this many people to come out.”
City NAACP President Hill-Aston believes this tragedy may spark renewed interest in confronting the realities of racism still present.
I’m Art Buist, reporting in Baltimore for 88-1, WYPR.
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