Photos by Jack Fitzpatrick
Phoenix residents united Wednesday night at Cesar Chavez Plaza in downtown Phoenix at the “Million Hoodie March,” sharing the message to stand up for justice for Trayvon Martin and to bring together communities.
“Anyone that’s treated unfairly is like treating one of us unfairly,” Phoenix Vice Mayor Michael Johnson said. Johnson joined about 100 marchers at the plaza.
A smaller rally than the march on Sunday in downtown Phoenix, the message remained: justice for Martin. Rallies are taking place across the country in memory of the slain Florida teen.
At the planned marches, people dress up in black hoodies to represent Martin, who was wearing a black hoodie when he was fatally shot last month by a neighborhood watchman.
The “Hoodie March” in Phoenix was organized via Facebook. The organizer asked attendees to share their experiences with racial profiling at the event.
“This is a united issue,” organizer Channel Powe said. “It’s not black and white. It’s what’s right and wrong.”
Powe led the crowd with chants such as “Stand your ground, arrest Zimmerman now,” while marchers held signs such “Justice 4 Trayvon” and “Thou shall not kill.”
“I think it could happen to anyone, anywhere in America. It relates to us because we have to find a way to stand up for these instances and terrible laws,” Phoenix resident Tremaine Jasper, 38, said at the rally.
Marchers showed their support and some came to find out more about the case.
“I think this shows it’s not just a race thing. Justice needs to be served. It’s our community summation that shows that this is wrong,” 13-year-old attendee Sydney Carey said.
Powe directed attendees to a table where they could register to vote to be able to stand their ground against model legislation.
The American Legislative Exchange Council and “Shoot First” laws have been in the spotlight since the shooting of Martin. The self-defense law has sparked controversy because it may protect Martin’s shooter, George Zimmerman.
Arizona is among the states that have laws that mirror the “Shoot First” law in Florida.
“I thought Zimmerman wouldn’t get arrested because of a law that shouldn’t be a law,” Sydney said. “I think it’s the law to blame, but also Zimmerman.”
Despite the small turnout, the message was still strong.
“I’m proud of the organizers to rally and fight for the community to keep supporting people that want to fight,” Jasper said.
To Craig Coggins, 48, the casual conversations among co-workers and peers and Facebook events are a start, but not enough.
“We have to take action. We have to show support,” Coggins said. “There was no reason for a kid to die that night. Yeah it’s race, but it’s also about how a human being died.”
Contact the reporter at firstname.lastname@example.org