One week after the jury returned a not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial, Trayvon Martin supporters are set to hold vigils from New York to Miami, and in 98 additional cities across the nation, keeping pressure on the Justice Department’s civil rights investigation and calling for a repeal of “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Two cornerstone events will be held in New York City and Miami on Saturday. In New York, msnbc host Rev. Al Sharpton will join the deceased teen’s mother Sybrina Fulton and his brother Jahvaris Fulton at noon on behalf of the National Action Network. Martin’s father Tracy will join other activists from the Sharpton’s organization outside a federal courthouse in Miami, Fla., at the same time.
Smaller events are planned for towns like Natchez, Miss., and Anniston, Ala., and in Memphis they plan to rally at National Civil Rights Museum, on the site of the historic Lorraine Motel where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in 1968. In Portland, Ore., members of the Portland Campaign to End the New Jim Crow will lead the vigil. In Richmond, Va., Mayor Dwight Jones is expected to join the rally.
The president addressed both of the specific issues – “Stand Your Ground” laws and a federal investigation – and the broader concern of racial disparities in the criminal justice system during impromptu remarks Friday.
“I know that Eric Holder is reviewing what happened down there,” he said. “But I think it’s important for people to have some clear expectations here. Traditionally, these are issues of state and local government, the criminal code. And law enforcement is traditionally done at the state and local levels, not at the federal levels.”
He also called for examination of “Stand Your Ground” type laws.
“I think it would be useful for us to examine some state and local laws to see if it – if they are designed in such a way that they may encourage the kinds of altercations and confrontations and tragedies that we saw in the Florida case, rather than diffuse potential altercations,” he said.
Protesters in Florida have been putting pressure squarely on Gov. Rick Scott, staging rallies and sit-ins at his Tallahassee office. He finally met with them Thursday, but refused to budge on his support for the law – citing a 2012 task force review that supported with it, and instead advising the protesters of their right to petition lawmakers.
Fulton recognizes and appreciates that her son’s story has resonated with many. In fact, organizers at the National Action Network tell PoliticsNation that they have a number of new faces who’ve reached out, offering to organize “Justice for Trayvon” events in their town.
“We’re trying to get as many people connected to this movement,” Fulton told Rev. Sharpton.
“There are people that want positive change. There are people that want the injustice to stop,” she said.
But the event organizers are also adamant that the voices remain controlled and non-violent.
“For the rallies that’s going on, for the marches, that are going on–for the most part they’re peaceful, and we want them to remain peaceful,” Fulton said. “We want them to have a voice, and we want their voices to be heard, because people are listening and numbers count, and that’s what’s important.”
You can find out more information about Saturday’s vigil at the National Action Network website.