On Wednesday, March 21st, I found myself running out of my office and to Union Square, the scene of a rally for the murdered boy, Trayvon Martin.
For some history, Trayvon was shot by George Zimmerman, 28, who appointed himself as “neighborhood watch” in Sanford, Fl. He saw Trayvon exit a store, where be purchased Skittles, and deemed the 17 year old “suspicious” (author’s note: suspicious = black) and took to following him down the street. The release of the (difficult to hear) 911 calls show Zimmerman calling Trayvon a “fucking coon” and one from a neighbor communicates the sounds of Trayvon screaming for his life before a the ringing out of a gunshot. From reports, it’s clear the police hardly did their job, not following usual protocol for a crime of this nature. Zimmerman was only taken in for questioning and released. He has been freely living for almost a month since he killed a child on February 26th, 2012.
When I heard there was a rally for the spirit of Trayvon, for justice and for peace, I had to join. I was that kid in college taking over the student center and performing pieces from For Colored Girls at open mics. And I admit I was briefly jaded (but my Father set me straight after telling me that “no, #OccupyWallStreet is not a waste of your tax dollars, don’t be so shortsighted.”
I met the protest in Union Square alone. I missed Trayvon’s parents, and Rev. Al Sharpton, but the action was no where near done when I arrived at 8. Initially, I thought it was over: it was quiet as I approached from Broadway but the moment I hit the park, the peaceful rage was apparent. Women, men, children, White, Black, Hispanic, students, professionals, crackheads (yup), the elite: everyone was coming together for an uprising against injustice. We were all out chanting the same words:
“We are… Trayvon Martin”
“No justice! No peace! No racist ass police!”
I suppose I was just there to observe, maybe follow, definitely support. For fodder for the blog… But I found myself shouting “Get up! Get down! Revolutionize this town!” while making eye contact with Bill, the man I named an old political rebel from the 70′s. Or so I gathered from his Che Guevera hoodie and jade rings. Yelling “Zimmerman! You liar! We will set your ass on fire!” with Jenny, an NYU student who’s been protesting since the #Occupy movements began. And cheering with the crowd when a cabbies honked approval at our mission. I was in deep.
It ended for many in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, where the police blocked in a massive crowd with police busses on either end. For me, it ended on the Manhattan side with a slew of young fighters.
“Why did we go downtown?” I asked, wondering why we weren’t on our way to midtown.
“We were on the way to the UN,” one kid explained. He wore 5 buttons on his baseball cap, all with a fist for justice.
“But the UN is closed. What’s the point of protesting to an empty building?” another said.
“Either way, it always ends in handcuffs if you’re blocking traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge” Jenny sighed through cigarette smoke.
“But at least they saw us,” said baseball cap. “They saw us,” and then with mention of another march not too far off, the three of them ran to join it, shouting about how no one should get arrested tonight, not after such a peaceful march. #MillionHoodieMarch
In memory of Trayvon Martin.