All across the country, people are taking to the streets in large numbers to fight back against the racist court system, which on July 13 acquitted murderer George Zimmerman. The ANSWER Coalition has been organizing demonstrations to contribute to this wave of protest ever since the verdict was announced. Below is a second collection of reports from demonstrations that have taken place across the country. Our first report from the demonstrations and an exciting video can be viewed here.
On July 16, hundreds gathers in Downtown Los Angeles for an emergency rally and march to denounce the racist acquittal of George Zimmerman and demand justice for Trayvon Martin. Initiated by the ANSWER Coalition and supported by a broad range of local organizations, the demonstration made the connection between vigilante murderers like Zimmerman and the broader structure of racist oppression in the United States by raising as the main slogan “Stop the War on Black and Brown Youth!”
The demonstration gathered at City Hall, where a picket line was set up as speakers began to address the crowd. Peta Lindsay of Women Organized to Resist and Defend (WORD) spoke at the rally, saying “Women are tired of seeing our sons and brothers harassed, imprisoned and murdered by this racist system. The only way to put a stop to this injustice is to fight for our rights in the streets”. Andrew Nance of the ANSWER Coalition added, “The cops act like George Zimmerman every day, brutalizing Black and Brown youth. It’s time to organize and fight back!”
The march then proceeded to the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters. Protesters made it clear that the same racial profiling employed by the LAPD led to the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Finally, demonstrators marched through the most populated streets of Downtown LA, with scores spontaneously joining the protest as it went past. Although police officers harassed the march the entire way, organizers and participants were firm in defending their right to take to the streets and forced the cops to back down.
Between July 19 and July 20 a number of events took place across the DC metro area demanding “Justice for Trayvon!” Protests begin on Friday the 19th with a community speak-out in front of the Justice Department that afternoon. Activists and community members related both their outrage at the Zimmerman verdict, and their determination to press on in achieving justice for Mr. Martin. In addition to dissecting the discriminatory case and its facts, many also spoke to the broader climate of racial injustice in the United States, pointing out the need to deal with the broader systemic issues that entrench racial disparities in the criminal justice system and other sectors of society.
Also on Friday a silent march, patterned after the 1919 anti-lynching march in Harlem, was held on some of the main streets of the city.
On July 20th hundreds of demonstrators gathered in Downtown Washington as part of the National Action Network’s call for vigils in 100 cities. Protestors similarly decried the acquittal verdict of George Zimmerman and the need for further action.
Elsewhere in the city, in Washington’s historic Anacostia neighborhood, protestors gathered for a rally and march. Organized by the National Black United Front and endorsed by the ANSWER Coalition and others, the event took protestors throughout the historic and oppressed community, past commercial strips and housing projects with impromptu rallies being held occasionally.
The event heard from the Party for Socialism and Liberation, Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, All-African People’s Revolutionary Party, Change for the King, the Movement for Love and Unity and many others including members of the community. With generally similar subject matter as other events, speakers and attendees focused in on the role of capitalism in racial injustice and the need for organization in oppressed communities to build a fight back movement.
In Prince Georges County another march and rally also took place with participation from organizations such as the Prince Georges County Peoples Coalition, SCLC, NAACP, CASA and others. The event heard from representatives from a number of these organizations and more generally from residents of the area. They also drew attention to the case of Archie Elliot III, murdered by Prince Georges County police while his hands were handcuffed behind his back in 1993.
Overall, throughout the weekend the DC metro area showed that the Justice for Trayvon movement had deep resonance, and organizations are actively planning on how to further the struggle against discrimination, exploitation and oppression in both the national and local contexts. In particular a number of organizations are actively preparing for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs, Peace and Freedom on August 24th when hundreds of thousands will descend on Washington to further the dreams of Dr. King.
Hundreds of people, Black and white, gathered at the Federal Courthouse in Seattle for the 100 city vigil day of action to demand justice for Travyon Martin. A spirited rally featured speakers from a diverse range of community and religious organizations, including former Black Panther Mark Cook, Trayvon Martin's cousin Cedric Turner, Oscar Eason of the NAACP, Minister Milford Mohammed of the Nation of Islam, Katie Wilson from the Transit Riders Union and Eddie Rye of the Martin Luther King Commemoration Committee. The opening speech was given by Rev. Samuel McKinney, a contemporary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Following the rally, protesters took to the streets and marched to Pratt Park in the Central District. Lively chants of "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!" rang out. As the march passed the King County Jail, marchers chanted "Jobs not jails!" Many passersby showed their support by applauding or joining in the march.
Over 100 Albuquerque residents gathered in Baatan Memorial park on July 17 and later on Central Ave. July 20 to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and all others who have been wronged by the racist U.S. justice system. On July 17 people from various neighborhoods and organizations gathered for a candelight vigil that demanded not only justice for Trayvon Martin and victims of the legal system but also specifically for victims of racism, sexism, anti-LGBT bigotry and police brutality. Mentioned among those affected by the unjust legal system were the “West Mesa women” who were primarily poor women of color, found murdered and buried in the desert on Albuquerque’s westside several years ago and which remains an unsolved case.
The ANSWER coalition provided placards and words of solidarity with both Trayvon Martin’s family and the rest of the community that has endured injustice. Many spoke of the extreme police brutality exercised by Albuquerque police against young men of color, “I am standing here because that same justice system could treat the killing of one of my children in the same way,” said Bineshi Albert, member of the SouthWest Organizing Project
On July 20 about 500 people assembled at the Sacramento, Calif. federal court house to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman. There was a short rally with speakers from the National Action Network, Justice Reform Coalition, Occupy Sacramento, ANSWER Coalition and Party for Socialism and Liberation. After the rally the protesters marched through the streets stopping at the state Capitol.
Members of the Party for Socialism and Liberation led the march with a banner that had Trayvon Martin's face painted on it and read "Stop the War on Black Youth". Later many people posed with the banner and took pictures in order to spread the word over social media.
After the march, ANSWER organizer Autumn Morales gave a speech to the crowd. She explained the racist nature of the U.S. courts and highlighted the need to build organizations on a long-term basis to fight racism.
"I urge you to not to take to take the streets just once a week, once a month, or even a few times a year, we need to be out here constantly. If not in community forums educating ourselves, in our neighbor's homes discussing our next course of action, planning a rally or a march. It's time for us all to come together" said Morales to an enthusiastic response from the crowd.
As part of the 100-city vigil organized by the National Action Network, the Pennsylvania State Chapter of NAN organized a rally July 20 for the people of the tri-state area to come together in memoriam of the killing of Trayvon Martin and to demand a change in the legal system that has yet again affirmed its callous and unapologetic anti-Black racism.
Hundreds answered the call outside of the James A. Byrne Federal Court House, bringing their own placards and shirts expressing demands ranging from calls for legal reform to decrying the murder as a modern-day lynching.
Noted community activist and criminal defense attorney Michael Coard took the stand to attack the legitimacy of the justice system itself, stating that, “Far too many lawyers accept the law as gospel truth […] but slavery was the law, women not being able to vote was the law. I don't care about what the law says, unless the law is just.” Morehouse College student Fanon Brown spoke to the crowd to highlight the links between the attacks on historically Black colleges and universities. Brown also denounced the closure of public schools coinciding with the increased construction of private prisons to create what is known as the school-to-prison pipeline, a neoliberal assault that devastates Black youth. Philadelphia activist icon Pam Africa urged the people to remain consistent with their demands for change, and not to let the movement for justice to end after this rally or the next, but until victory is won.
After a call for a rally and march on August 24th from the Lincoln Memorial to the King Memorial, the crowd's fervor was not yet satiated, and a march broke out in the streets as chants of “Justice For Trayvon Martin” roared across the blocks. If we remain united in an unrelenting struggle, Trayvon Martin and his family will receive that justice.
On July 20, over 6,000 people rallied at Federal Plaza in downtown Chicago to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and to protest the racist so-called justice system. Speakers included well-known African American leaders including Jesse Jackson and cultural icons like comedian Paul Mooney and rapper MC Lyte, all of whom called for George Zimmerman to be brought to justice for his crime.
Many of the demonstrators wore shirts and held signs with Trayvon Martin’s likeness; others wore hooded sweatshirts like the one Martin wore when he was gunned down by Zimmerman. Members of the ANSWER Coalition displayed a large banner stating: “Justice for Trayvon Martin! Stop the War on Black and Brown Youth!” Representatives from Women Organized to Resist and Defend carried placards reading, “My son, your son—Trayvon is our son,” in both English and Spanish.
After the rally, demonstrators took to the streets, marching through Chicago’s downtown area to Grant Park. The march then headed back downtown to ABC News' street-level studio, where demonstrators continued chanting: “No justice, no peace!” and “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” The rally ended with protesters vowing to continue the struggle in the streets of Chicago, not only until Zimmerman pays for his crimes but the entire system of racism and police brutality is shut down for good.