Monday, 22 July 2013

'We're racist and proud': Cheeky group stages counter-demonstration against 'Justice for Trayvon' marches

Dueling groups of protesters converged on a wealthy Houston neighborhood on Sunday in reaction to last weekend's not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the death of teen Trayvon Martin.

Around 80 people gathered on a street in Houston's River Oaks area, some carrying American flags and shouting support for stand-your-ground self-defense laws.

Members of this group held signs that read: 'We're racist and proud,' 'Remove the Black Panthers from the U.S.A.' and 'If Zimmerman is a "White Hispanic" then President Obama is a "White Black."'

Opposition: A woman holds a sign up as the G. Zimmerman River Oaks Stand Your Ground group holds a counter demonstration to Houston community activist Quanell X's group march in the River Oaks community in Houston on Sunday

Confrontation: Houston activist Quanell X, left, walks past a man who would not give his name, during a protest in the River Oaks community in Houston on Sunday

Kept apart: Police officers, many on horseback, kept the crowds moving and separated

Their presence was in response to several hundred people organized by Houston activist Quanell X, who led a march for more than an hour through the same neighborhood's streets in support of Martin.

Police officers, many on horseback, kept the crowds moving and separated. Except for some insults shouted, the marches and rallies appeared peaceful.

On Saturday, one week after Zimmerman was found not guilty, people gathered for nationwide rallies to press for federal civil rights charges against the former neighborhood watch leader.

Crowds rallied in dozens of U.S. cities, urging authorities to change self-defense laws and pressing federal civil rights charges against the former neighborhood watch leader who killed Martin.

Anger: Protestors shout at counter-protestors across the street on Del Monte Drive in the River Oaks community in Houston on Sunday

Pro-Trayvon: A protestor carries a sign in the River Oaks community in Houston on Sunday

Counter movement: A protestor holds a sign as the G. Zimmerman River Oaks Stand Your Ground group holds a demonstration against community activist Quanell X

Calm: Except for some insults shouted, the marches and rallies appeared peaceful

The case has become a flashpoint in separate but converging national debates over self-defense laws, guns, and race relations.

The Rev Al Sharpton's National Action Network organized Justice for Trayvon rallies and vigils outside federal buildings from noon in at least 101 cities, from New York and Los Angeles to Wichita in Kansas and Birmingham, Alabama.

On Saturday morning he told supporters in Manhattan he wanted a rollback of stand-your-ground self-defense laws.


High profile: Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton, third from left, was joined by Beyonce, Jay Z and the Rev Al Sharpton at New York's protest Saturday

Connection: Celebrity couple Beyonce and Jay Z say as parents they can understand the pain of the verdict

Trayvon Martin's mother leads rally in NYC

'We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again,' he said.

'We have the strength to wipe our tears away. Last Saturday we cried. This Saturday we march.'

Trayvon's mother, Sybrina Fulton, also spoke at the New York rally, telling the crowd: 'Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours.'

She added: 'Of course we are hurting. Of course we are shocked and disappointed, but that just means we have to roll up our sleeves and continue to fight.'

Ms Fulton, her son Jahvaris, and the Rev Al Sharpton joined the rally as it marched to One Police Plaza at noon, where they were joined by Jay Z and his wife Beyonce, according to the New York Post.

Emotional: Trayvon's mother Sybrina Fulton is joined by her son, Jahvaris, left, and the Rev Al Sharpton as she speaks in New York

Speech: Meanwhile, in Miami, Trayvon's father Tracy Martin told crowds there that he will continue to fight for his son

Although they did not speak at the rally, the Rev Al Sharpton told the crowd: 'Jay Z told me, "I'm a father. Beyonce is a mother". We all feel the pain and apprehension - the laws must protect everybody, or it doesn't protect anybody.'

He added: 'We do not come from hate, we come from love of children,' according to the Huffington Post.

Beyonce had shown her support for the case last week, asking for a moment of silence at a concert after the not guilty verdict was recorded.

While Trayvon's mother was in New York, the dead teenager's father took part in a Miami rally on Saturday morning, according to NBC News.

Support: People march through Oakland, California, as part of the Justice for Trayvon rally

Verdict: George Zimmmerman, right, was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, left

Wide spread: Philadelphia residents took part in the day of action

United: In Salt Lake City residents gathered outside the Wallace Bennett Federal Building for the rally

Tracy Martin told supporters outside Miami's federal courthouse: 'I vowed to Trayvon, when he was lying in his casket, that I would use every ounce of energy in my body to seek justice for him.'

He added: 'I will fight for Trayvon until the day I die. Not only will I fight for Trayvon, I will fight for your child as well.'

The Rev Sharpton and other supporters want the Justice Department to pursue federal civil rights charges against Mr Zimmerman.

He told the rally on Saturday: 'They will not say that was the young man killed in Sanford. They will say that was the young man who helped change the laws in the United States of America.'

Former Governor Eliot Spitzer, who attended the New York rally, said: 'Regardless of how you view the legality of the verdict in isolation, justice here was denied. An innocent young man was shot and killed and that is a tragedy.'

Protection: Eight-month-old Tyleigh Gould in Florida was one of many children taken to the rallies as parents voiced concern at the trial verdict

Presidential backing: At the New York rally a woman holds a sign of President Obama, who said he could have been like Trayvon Martin

Icon: Members of the crowd wore hoodies or held up packets of Skittles in reference to Trayvon being shot as he returned from buying the candy

Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that the department would investigate whether the Hispanic neighborhood watch man could be charged under those federal civil rights laws, which would require evidence that he harbored racial animosity against Trayvon.

Most legal experts said it would be a difficult charge to bring.

Mr Holder added that the shooting demonstrated the need to re-examine stand-your-ground laws nationwide.

The Rev Jeffrey Johnson told about 200 people in Indianapolis that the rally was about making life safer for young black men.

Continuing protests: Posters announcing a future rally for Trayvon Martin in New York

United in cause: 8-year-old Anthony Simbler, left, and dentist Nicole Ray, right, wear similar suits that unite them in their cause for justice for Trayvon, though they protested today in separate cities (Simbler in Chicago and Ray in Miami)

Father and son supporters: Ulysses Diaz, holds his son, Armani Hinton, as they listen to a speech at a rally in Las Vegas.

The Rev Johnson said there were still endangered by racial profiling, and he compared Mr Zimmerman’s acquittal to that of four white officers in the beating of black motorist Rodney King in 1992, according to the Boston Globe.

'‘The verdict freed George Zimmerman, but it condemned America more,' the pastor who is a member of the board of directors of the National Action Network, said.

On Friday President Obama said it was still common for black men to ‘'be followed in a department store' while shopping or to walk down the street and 'hear the car doors lock'.

He added that he had experienced both scenarios before he rose to social and political prominence.

Change: The trial has led to calls for renewed debates on Florida's stand your ground law

Protest: A young girl joins a protest outside a Philadelphia court house



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