‘Justice for Trayvon’

Published 7:58 pm Tuesday, April 3, 2012

About 150 people walked from White Marsh Plaza shopping center to Lake Kennedy Park Sunday afternoon to protest the fact that there has not been an arrest in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Some of the walkers carried signs; many carried Skittles and Arizona Iced Tea in his honor.

A march through a portion of Lake Kennedy on Sunday attracted about 150 people and marked the first of at least two public events in Suffolk designed to pressure police in Sanford, Fla., to arrest the killer of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

In an event organized via social media by Suffolk’s Geral “Bishop” Staten, participants walked from the parking lot of the White Marsh Plaza shopping center to nearby Lake Kennedy Park.

Many of the participants carried Skittles candy and Arizona Iced Tea as a reminder that Martin was returning from a Sanford, Fla., store to the home of his father’s fiancée when he was shot at about 7:15 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 26.

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Martin was unarmed, but the man who admits to having shot him, 28-year-old George Zimmerman, claims that Trayvon attacked him, and he was acting in self-defense when he pulled the trigger.

Organizers and participants in Sunday’s march in Suffolk said they want justice for Martin.

“I took it to heart about what happened,” Staten said of his decision to organize the march and pay for the permits necessary to get a police escort for those who were walking the route. Setting up the march gave people in Suffolk a way to “come together for justice,” he said.

“It’s tragic what happened,” Suffolk NAACP President Lue Ward said as he and Suffolk’s Bishop Wallace Johnson awaited the beginning of the event. “Let’s see how long it takes for justice to be done.”

“This is a wakeup call for everybody to take a deep look and see what’s really going on in this country,” Johnson said.

He plans a candlelight vigil at 7 p.m. April 10 at Peanut Park, near downtown Suffolk. That event is expected to draw members of a number of Suffolk churches and will feature several speakers issuing a “cry for justice,” according to a flier Johnson was distributing on Sunday.

“We’re not rushing to judgment on this guy that shot Trayvon,” Johnson said. “But when you look at the evidence, the evidence plainly shows this was a murder.”

Investigations into the incident continue at the local, state and federal levels but there has been no arrest in the case, and Florida’s so-called “Stand Your Ground” law clouds an already complicated case.

Ward and Johnson, however, believe it’s time to arrest Zimmerman and let the court system work things out.

“Let a court of law decide,” Johnson said. “I’m a firm believer that the justice system works. It worked in the first O.J. Simpson case, and people didn’t like it. It worked in the second O.J. Simpson case, and people didn’t like it. And it worked in the third O.J. Simpson case, and people didn’t like it.”

An arrest resulting in a court finding of innocence would be “disappointing,” but it would be evidence of due process, the men said.

“If they had arrested this guy three weeks ago, we wouldn’t be here today,” Ward said.