Local News

Hundreds rally in Triangle for justice in Florida teen's shooting death

Posted March 25, 2012 2:17 p.m. EDT
Updated March 26, 2012 11:17 p.m. EDT

— Rallies in the Triangle Monday called for justice in the case of an unarmed Florida teen whose shooting death has sparked national outrage. 

The rallies mark one month since Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, in Sanford, Fla. Local police's decision to not charge Zimmerman sparked national outcry and investigations by a local grand jury and the U.S. Justice Department.

The case has resonated locally as thousands of people participating in marches, rallies and protests this week to bring attention to Martin's death and call for justice.

The largest of Monday's rallies was at Pullen Park in Raleigh, where families marched holding signs and wearing hooded sweatshirts like the one Martin was reportedly wearing on the night he was killed.

"You need to stand up for your rights because this could have been you," said march organizer Jeannette Borne. "This could have been any young African American boy in America."

Borne and many others who participated Monday said they believe Martin's shooting was racially motivated.

Bishop William Purvis, who attended a rally entitled "Am I suspicious?" organized by the Black Law Students Association at Grace AME Zion church in downtown Raleigh, said the death harkens back to the Civil Rights movement. 

"I think that there are still some people who don't live in today's society. I think that there are still some people who still live back in the 1960s and 50s," Purvis said. "I hope that this movement today will not just bring us together on one day, but I wish we could come together at all times. 

In Durham, Rev. William Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of the NAACP spoke to students at North Carolina Central University, who wore hoodies at a rally in front of the Turner Law Building.

"The reason there's such tension about it is because everywhere in this country, people can tell you stories, the same story, about the criminalization of our African-American men," Barber said at an already scheduled regional meeting of the NAACP in Raleigh this weekend.

Martin's death sparked hot discussion at the meeting.

"We live under the burden that when our young men leave the house, we have to tell them things like don't have anything in your hand. Don't break out and run," Barber said.

"We teach them that if they're stopped on a traffic stop, that you put your hands on the top of the wheel, so that you will not be shot on a country road," said Gloria Sweet-Love, southeastern caucus chair of the NAACP.

South Carolina NAACP Secretary Comilla Sampson said she has a son only a year apart in age from Martin.

"I constantly tell him that you're being looked at, you're being judged," Sampson said.

A rally was also held in Winston-Salem Monday.

A rally will also take place in Pittsboro at Mitchell Chapel AME Zion Church Wednesday evening.

Occupy Raleigh protesters held a candlelit vigil at the Old State Capitol Building at Sunday night to honor Martin.