Photos: 'Justice For Trayvon' Protesters March Through Downtown
Scores of protesters from all walks of life gathered in front of the L.A. federal courthouse Saturday for a peaceful vigil to speak out against the controversial Trayvon Martin verdict.
The vigil was only part of a "national day of action" brought on by Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network in conjunction with the Los Angeles Coalition for Community Control Over the Police. The Network planned for 100 "Justice for Trayvon" vigils across the country to demand a federal investigation into the case that they see as a corruption of justice.
"This is not a black and white issue," said L.A. civil rights activist Najee Ali. "This is a right and wrong issue."
Reality television star Omarosa Maginault and others gave a speech at the courthouse before the protesters split up and marched through downtown. One group marched down Spring Street and then onto Wilshire Boulevard heading west. Chanting slogans such as "No justice, no peace," and holding signs, the marchers numbered in the hundreds and effectively stopped traffic wherever they went.
The police presence at the vigil was subdued compared to the swarm of cops that descended on an anti-racism "fun run" in Westwood Thursday. There were no arrests, and police officers guided the protesters down the street as they marched through downtown.
Martin, an unarmed black 17-year-old, was shot and killed inside a Sanford, Florida gated community by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who deemed Martin a threat. After a long trial, Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Martin's death last Saturday. The verdict has sparked a massive number of protests across the nation, many of them in Los Angeles neighborhoods as culturally diverse as Leimert Park and Beverly Hills.
Many protest signs demanded that Attorney General Eric Holder charge Zimmerman with federal charges and abolish Florida's controversial "Stand your ground" law. Some signs compared Martin's death to that of Emmett Till, a black youth who was violently murdered in the 1960s. Another sign proclaimed "Open season on the black man."
The people gathered at the rally were diverse, but all had a similar message.
"I'm here to show my unity," said J.R., a protester from Skid Row. "I'm here to find a peaceful way to show my support."
"There was no justice served across the board for any child, not just Trayvon; Kendrec McDade, Sean Bell, anyone," said Lannie Williams, a protester from Venice who brought up two local cases where black men were killed by law enforcement. "We were all looking for some kind of justice, but it was never given to us."
Beverly Diehl, a white woman from the San Fernando Valley, told LAist "I don't have the same experiences. But [the verdict] was outrageous. I believe that if Zimmerman spoke with an accent or had darker skin, there would be no way the police would have released him."
When the marchers eventually reached Mid-City, a smaller group broke from the ranks and headed south toward Crenshaw.
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