Hundreds have gathered in New York City's Union Square Wednesday night to offer support for the family of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old murdered by a Neighborhood Watch member. Trayvon's parents flew in from Florida to attend the rally.
George Zimmerman, a member of the local Neighborhood Watch, shot an unarmed Martin last month, but as yet has not been arrested or charged over the killing. The case has gained national attention, and the Justice Department has decided to conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the killing.
The rally was planned with only a few days' notice and named the Million Hoodie March because Martin was wearing a hoodie at the time of his death. "These people are out here because they know that this could be their brother, it could've been their father," attendant Brianna Seagraves told the local CBS station.
"This is not a black and white thing – this is about a right or wrong thing," Martin's mother Sabryna Fulton said. "Our son is your son! My heart is in pain, but seeing the support from all of you really makes a difference."
Also in attendance was New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, who was arrested during the city's annual West Indian Parade and filed a suit against the officers for excessive force. "I know I'm black; I reek of Brooklyn," he stated. "But I'm not a criminal. I'm a city councilman. Some of us are doctors; some of us are President of the United States of America. Our blood is not cheap."
Trayvon's father, Tracey, also addressed the crowd: "We ask that we get justice for our son. He almost gave his life for me. I won't stop until I get justice for him."
Florida's controversial Stand Your Ground law has been called into question because of the shooting, and now even its supporters have questioned its legality. "He (Zimmerman) has no protection under my law," former Senator Durell Peaden told the Miami Herald.
City Manager Norton Bonaparte issued a statement addressing why Zimmerman had not been arrested. "Law enforcement was prohibited from making an arrest based on the facts and circumstances they had at the time. The Sanford Police Department has conducted a complete and fair investigation of this incident."
It has been revealed that Zimmerman pursued Martin even after being instructed not to by a 911 dispatcher. When police arrived on the scene, they found Martin dead of a bullet wound to the chest and Zimmerman with a bloody nose. "My son was screaming for his life," Tracy Martin said. "You can't claim self defense if you're the aggressor."