"Skittles and tea, don't shoot me!" This chant reverberated during the march in Indianapolis for slain Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. Citizens of Indy and others of neighboring counties showed up in the hundreds to rally from Crispus Attucks Medical Magnet High School to the American Legion Mall and finally to Monument Circle in downtown Indy. Though peaceful, the rally was organizers' way of showing that Indy will no longer stand for injustice.
Kamia White, Sharvonne Williams, Ieshia Hill and Emily Caldwell, who all reside in Indianapolis, joined forces to put together the demonstration. The event started as individual rallies showing their indignation at the injustice of unarmed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin being gunned down by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla. But once Kamia and Emily found knowledge of each other, they quickly united to combine their actions, with others joining.
As similar marches broke out nationwide, Indianapolis made its mark by taking a stand against injustice. Reportedly 2,500-plus people came out to support the cause during the March 26 rally. From young to old and everyone in between, the march's organizers said they did not anticipate such a crowd. However, pleasantly surprised by the turnout, they said that this is only the beginning.
"We plan to continue to work," Kamia said, adding that she will continue to follow this case and show the Martin family that Indianapolis citizens are outraged and care about justice being served.
As a general consensus, the feeling of discontent over the mishandling of Trayvon Martin's case has lead supporters to question the Sanford police department. As of today, Zimmerman, the admitted shooter, has not been charged in the teen's death. Zimmerman has claimed he was only acting in self defense and has now went into hiding for fear of his life. With a hefty bounty attached to his head now, Zimmerman has made public his remorse for his actions. Despite this somber statement, his defense team states that there is other evidence that will support Zimmerman's claim to selfdefense. No charges have been made due to Florida's controversial "Stand your ground," law, which states:
Fla. Stat. ? 776.012. Use of force in defense of person. A person is justified in using force, except deadly force, against another when and to the extent that the person reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or herself or another against the other's imminent use of unlawful force. However, a person is justified in the use of deadly force and does not have a duty to retreat if: (1) He or she reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the imminent commission of a forcible felony; or (2) Under those circumstances permitted pursuant to s. 776.013
This law has struck a nerve in people all across the U.S. Critics say that gives anyone the right to walk up someone, kill that person and then claim self-defense. That's what many people believe Zimmerman did in the case of Trayvon Martin. Many marchers expressed their disgust at Zimmerman's cowardly actions and demand that he be charged with murder.
In the wake of this event, many say that it is time to stand up and do something.
"This could have been my son," one marcher weepingly expressed. "It could have been anyone's son."
After the march in Indy, I began researching and found out on Facebook that a number of groups were planning rallies for Fort Wayne. The first was at 8 a.m., March 31 in Memorial Park. Only a handful of people came out-but they were strong in spirit.
Fort Wayne NAACP President Paulette Nellems spoke on the injustice of the Trayvon Martin case and the fact that no charges have yet been brought against Zimmerman. She said similar incidents happen all over America where such cases are not properly investigated.
Nellems talked about recent cases in Fort Wayne in which people were shot and the investigations do not appear to be aggressive or in-depth. She urged the community to join together and take a stand against justice in general. Nellems gave information on how to contact the prosecuting attorney here and the one in Florida, under whose jurisdiction the Martin case lies. She also urged people to join the NAACP, which has been at the forefront of challenging racial and other injustice for more than 100 years.
The Rev. Phillip Johnson spoke on the problems of racial profiling here and throughout the nation, while the Rev. Carlton Lynch offered a prayer and the persona that young men give off when they wear their clothes a certain way. The Rev. Lynch said it's said that young people get profiled that way, but they need to understand that and be vigilant about their appearance and behavior.
The tone for a second gathering that afternoon in Freimann Square in downtown Fort Wayne was a bit different. It turned into a debate or discussion more so than a rally. Attendees-a multiracial group, nearly all wearing hoodies in support of Trayvon Martin's family-discussed racial profiling in-depth and how we as a community should join together and to quote legendary hip-hop group Public Enemy, "fight the powers that be." The small but dedicated group stayed in Freimann two-and-a-half hours discussing the Martin case and other cases.
Local peace activist Dave Lambert spoke on the problems of so-called "stand your ground" laws, sometimes known as "shoot first" laws and how prosecutors did not like them. Lambert talked about the NRA selling hoodies that are specially designed to hide handguns. But, he said, he's heard no mention of Trayvon Martin for them. Lambert suggested that the NRA says that a person wearing that hoodie could have shot back at Zimmerman and that the organization seemed to be capitalizing on that tragedy.
One mother stood up and said she was "sick and tired of being tired" of black male children being stereotyped as thugs and criminals and indiscriminately shot down.
Others, men and women wearing t-shirts from the organization MASH-Mothers Against Senseless Homicides-spoke, expressing their concern that justice be done in the case of killing such as Trayvon Martin's and others.
Pastor Angela Shannon of Calvary Lutheran Church in Angola, spoke on how the tragedy has driven people together for "intelligent discourse." She added that, although a step toward working together, it does not mean that people have to totally agree to work for progress and change.
"Unity does not mean uniformity of thought? and we bring whatever we bring to the table,
A couple of people suggesting organizing more group gatherings to come up with a plan on how to bring up their concerns and information to Fort Wayne City Council members.
They also talked about the importance of voting, not only nationally, but locally because "we're the ones who put people in office and we should know who we're putting in office. We should know their views. If we don't agree with their views we should vote them out of office and put ones in who will make a change."
Editor's note: Don't miss Nikki Tabron-Booker's special call-in Internet radio discussion beginning at 1:30 p.m., April 5 at http://blogtalkradio.com/ onedividedby4. The call in number is (646) 595- 2210.