The Rev Al. Sharpton’s National Action Network held a series of “Justice For Trayvon” peace rallies across 100 American cities Saturday afternoon, with Sharpton hosting the N.Y.C. rally at One Police Plaza with Sybrina Fulton, Trayvon Martin’s mother.
“Around the country today, we called for a 100 city vigil,” Sharpton told the crowd. “People think you can’t mobilize 100 cities in one day. Well, we just watched [them mobilize] from Atlanta, Miami, to Chicago!”
Sharpton acknowledged that George Zimmerman had his right to a fair trial, “but what about Trayvon’s rights? What about the rights of an unarmed teenager that has committed no crime? What about Trayvon’s rights to stand his ground?”
The reverend laid out a simple plan for moving forward after Zimmerman’s not guilty verdict. “We are going to deal with this stand your ground law!” he said. “Just as the generation before me had to fight for voting rights, we gotta fight laws like stand your ground!”
After rallying the crowd, Sharpton introduced Fulton to the stand. Standing with Jahvaris Martin, Trayvon’s brother, she expressed gratitude at the large turnout.
“I am honored you all decided to take part in this occasion,” she said. “Trayvon is not here to speak for himself. It is very important for us as parents to speak up for our children.”
Fulton shared her disdain for how lawyers at the trial characterized her son. “As I sat in the courtroom, it made me think they were talking about another man. And it wasn’t. It was a child.”
“And don’t take my word for it. He had a drink in hand!”
With many parents in the crowd, including Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham, Fulton noted that this wasn’t only about her justice.
“Not only do I vow to do what I can for Trayvon Martin,” she announced. “I promise you I’m gonna work hard for your children as well.”
Adding his voice to the calls for Stand Your Ground repeals, Judge Greg Mathis slammed Florida’s adherence to the law.
“This backward state allows you to shoot first and ask no questions,” he said.
Rev Michael A. Walrond Jr. of Harlem’s First Corinthian Baptist Church implored the crowd to keep fighting long after the rally ended.
“When the cameras leave and all reporters leave,” Walrond said, “it will be a time for collective organization.
“This is not a black issue, this is a human issue. This is about understanding that every huma life is valuable and every human life is meaningful. If you don’t put your hands to the plow, it will not get done.”
Around the same time as the N.Y.C. rally, Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father, spoke at a rally in Miami, adding that “I’d like the world to know that Trayvon was my son. He was a loved child. He did nothing wrong and we’re not going to let them persecute him the way that they have.”