By William K. Alcorn
Many who attended the Hoodies with a Purpose rally Friday, most wearing hooded sweat shirts, say they want swifter justice in the Feb. 26 slaying of Trayvon Martin in Florida.
Others, including one of the rally’s organizer, Kellie Kirksey of Boardman, a holistic psychotherapist at the Cleveland Clinic, also urged that love come to the front “because love heals, and justice can only come through love.”
Between 30 and 40 attended the rally, which started at 4 p.m. in front of the Mahoning County Court House. They held signs demanding “Justice” and asking for “Peace.”
The 17-year-old’s killing has raised protests here and around the country. He was shot Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla., by George Zimmerman, member of a block watch, who says he was assaulted by the teen and shot in self-defense.
The protesters here chanted, “No justice, no peace” and “Stop the violence,” as they marched along Market Street, at least one wearing at T-shirt she had made with Trayvon Martin’s likeness and the words “Justice for Trayvon” on the front.
“I have a grandchild, too. Where did it become a law that you can’t go to the store wearing a hoodie,” said Marilyn Moore of Youngstown.
“There is no justice in this case. ... I haven’t seen any evidence he [Zimmerman] was attacked,” said Moore.
“I feel it is unfair. The shooter should have been arrested and thoroughly investigated,” said Liz Pless of Youngstown.
Pless doesn’t view the shooting as racially motivated. But it was a child. The excessive force was unnecessary, she said.
“If the shooter was in so much danger, why was he following the boy. He could have been my child. Just because you are on the block watch, it don’t give you the right to kill someone,” she said.
Marty Murphy, who brought his young nephew along “so he can learn,” said if a black man had killed the teen, he would have been charged the first day. “I don’t think they are doing justice in that case.”
Zimmerman has not been charged in the shooting.
A response needs to come from cities across America, because an injustice is being done to Trayvon Martin and his family, said the Rev. Kenneth Simon, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Youngstown.
As the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” the Rev. Mr. Simon said.
“There should be intensive investigation and an arrest in the case. Based on the 911 tapes and pictures of Zimmerman, there is no evidence he was attacked. This was racial profiling in its highest order,” he said.
“My intention,” said Kirksey in organizing the rally, “is to spread more love and kindness rather than hate and fear.”
“When people respond out of fear, tragedy happens. We need to come together as a people. This needs to stop,” she said.