NEW YORK—A national day of 100 rallies for Trayvon Martin drew a crowd of hundreds in New York City, including Beyonce, Jay-Z, the Rev. Al Sharpton, and Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton.
The goal of the rallies, organized mainly by Occupy Wall Street, was to create a national, unified call for justice for Martin. The case of Martin’s death at the hands of community watch patrolman George Zimmerman has electrified the nation in the past week, including calls to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law that allowed for Zimmerman’s acquittal, and culminating in a national address on race by President Barack Obama.
In New York City, a renewed criticism of the New York Police Department’s (NYPD) controversial stop-and-frisk policy has erupted, largely because Martin’s case is seen by many as a extreme and tragic example of racial profiling, which is the most common criticism of stop-and-frisk.
Despite another day of scorching hot temperatures that reached to 90 degrees, some protesters used hoodies to cover their heads in a show of solidarity, as Trayvon was wearing one when he was killed.
Protesters went from the NYPD police headquarters, where the rally started, across the Brooklyn Bridge, chanting “Trayvon Martin” and flanked by a lineup of police scooters.
At the rally, speakers urged the crowd to join an Aug. 24 rally in Washington that organizers are likening to the famed 1963 march on Washington led by Martin Luther King, Jr., at which he made his “I Have a Dream” speech.
Also during the rally, Trayvon Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told supporters she was determined to fight for societal and legal changes needed to ensure that black youth are no longer viewed with suspicion because of their skin color.
“I promise you I’m going to work for your children as well,” she said. At a morning appearance at Sharpton’s headquarters in Harlem, Fulton implored supporters not to think the tragedy was Martin’s alone, saying, “Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours.”
“Trayvon was no burglar,” Fulton said. “He had a drink and some candy. He had every right to be in that area.”
Martin’s brother also attended the rally, which drew a racially diverse crowd and a number of New York City politicians. Other vigils were planned in Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta, and many other cities.
Additional reporting by Associated Press