BOSTON — Rallies were held in virtually every major city across the U.S. — including Boston — in response to the Flordia verdict finding George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
A racially diverse crowd of 500 rallied in Roxbury’s Dudley Square Sunday night, as dozens of speakers took turns with a megaphone to voice outrage and call for action.
“Only in America would a young black man be put on trial for his own murder. It was not George Zimmerman on trial, it was Trayvon Martin on trial,” said Khery Petersen-Smith, a graduate student from Dorchester.
He says those who believe the justice system made a mistake are wrong. Instead, he says, the system was designed this way.
“You can think it made a mistake if you ignore the past 400 years,” he said. “‘Cause this has been happening to us for a long time. The law is not for us, it is against us. It was never for us. This has never been a democracy for us. We have to fight for our rights.”
Many spoke with anger, and about the difficult task of turning that anger into constructive action. Many also spoke about their frustrations with the country’s gun laws. And some, such as Leandra Hawksworth, of Chelsea, spoke about the African American community’s own responsibility for failing to press its case strongly enough before the death of Trayvon Martin.
“The system has not just failed him. We have too,” she said. “Because, why are we here now? We should have been here a long time ago before this happened.”
Jeannine Saint Louis, of Roxbury, said the rally provided a good opportunity for the diverse crowd to come together and vent. But she’d really like to see such events take place elsewhere, too.
“What would, really, I think, give some people hope, especially people of color, is if white people did a rally like this in their own communities,” she said. “We know what’s going on. We don’t need people coming here telling us what we see every day. Now if they did this same kind of rally in Wellesley or Newton or any of those places, well, they need to hear it.”
After more than an hour of speeches, the crowd set off to march up Malcolm X Boulevard to the Ruggles MBTA stop and back to Dudley. They were escorted by police, but as night fell the event ended as it had begun — peacefully.