(Photo: REUTERS/Ed Linsmier)
Pastors and members of churches across the nation wore hoodie sweatshirts on Palm Sunday in honor of Trayvon Martin, who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Fla. over a month ago.
Congregants in churches in Newark, N.J., Syracuse, N.Y., San Bernardino, Calif., and elsewhere across the United States wore hooded sweatshirts Sunday.
Seventeen-year-old Martin, an African-American, wore a hoodie when was shot to death on Feb. 26 by a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, who is part Hispanic. The hoodie now symbolizes calls for justice in Martin's case. The shooter, who claimed he acted in self-defense, has not been arrested.
Pastor Ronald Slaughter and several members of his congregation at St. James AME Church in Newark donned hoodies, according to nj.com. The church had urged members to participate in "Hoodie Sunday." "We are Trayvon Martin! Hoodie Sunday. Wear your hoodie as a sign of solidarity," read the church's website.
The website also carried a photo of Martin wearing a hoodie, with Amos 5:24, "But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream," written next to it.
Many believe Martin's killing was a racist attack, as Zimmerman reportedly made racially-charged statements on a 911 call. Martin, who was carrying a bag of Skittles candy and an iced tea, was returning to his father's fiancée's house in Sanford, Fla., from a convenience store at the time of the incident.
Like Pastor Slaughter, Pastor Leslie Johnson, Jr., at the Tucker Missionary Baptist Church in Syracuse, N.Y., had encouraged church members to wear hoodies for the Palm Sunday service. "I wanted people to understand that even though the hoodie symbolized what took place, that we should not stereotype anybody," WSYR-TV quoted Pastor Johnson as saying. "Racial profiling is not what we should be doing in America today. So the hoodie is symbolic of how we are going to stand for justice."
Members of the Redeemers House Church in San Bernardino, Calif., also wore hooded sweatshirts Sunday. Pastor Andre Chapple held a special event called "Hoodies and Souls." "Your generation has now gotten the torch for civil rights," Chapple told the congregation, according to Contra Costa Times. "If y'all can't wear a hoodie in the rain, something's wrong."
Even most of the children at the Redeemers church showed up wearing hoodies. "Hoodies up!" Johnson said several times during the service.
Meanwhile, thousands, including Basketball stars Alonzo Mourning and Isaiah Thomas and singers Chaka Khan and Betty Wright, gathered Sunday at a rally in Miami, Fla., to call for Zimmerman's arrest.
Martin's father, speaking briefly, promised the crowd he would not stop fighting "for my Trayvon and for your Trayvon," according to The Associated Press.
Speaking at the rally, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said the case was about ending all types of racial profiling – not just in criminal cases, but by banks, insurance companies and in the job market.
A grand jury is expected to be convened by the local prosecutor in Sanford, Fla., April 10 to review the case.