USF rallies for justice in Trayvon Martin case
Published: Monday, March 26, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 26, 2012 01:03
When Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old, was killed Feb. 26, he walked through the Sanford, Fla., community where neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman lived, carrying a packet of Skittles and iced tea and wearing a hoodie.
Zimmerman, 28, called 911 and reported seeing “a real suspicious guy” who “looks up to no good,” before shooting and killing an unarmed Martin.
As the news of Martin’s death catapults across the country, USF will join thousands of others across the nation today in “looking like” Martin did on the night of his death — dressed in hoodies.
USF’s Black Student Union (BSU) and College Democrats will host multiple events throughout “Million Hoodies Monday,” a nationwide event to bring justice to Martin’s case, in which no arrests have been made yet.
At 3 p.m., College Democrats will host a press conference in the MLK Plaza where Joyce Hamilton Henry, director of the Greater Tampa Bay Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, will speak. The BSU will hold a march from the Marshall Student Center (MSC) to the MLK Plaza at 6:30 p.m., where a moment of silence will be held for Martin, following their 5 p.m. meeting in MSC 2709.
The events follow a rally held Thursday in Sanford’s Fort Mellon Park that featured the Rev. Al Sharpton and drew thousands, as well as a downtown Tampa rally that brought a crowd of hundreds Saturday.
BSU President DJ Howard, a senior majoring in marketing, said the organization hopes to bring awareness to the Martin case on campus.
“The injustice revolving around the Trayvon Martin murder is unacceptable and immoral and we want to show our support to the family and to what is right, while also bringing awareness to the issue,” he said. “We have many members from the Orlando-Sanford area and some who went to the rally there. Hearing about how moving and inspiring (it was), it even more so motivated us to host this demonstration to hopefully inspire and motivate people right here around USF.”
College Democrats President Luis Silva, a senior majoring in political science, said while universities across the country have protested the case, “nobody’s done anything in the USF area.”
“Honestly, we don’t want to bring politics into it, but we had to do something and we want to bring attention to the fact that his killer is still out there,” he said. “We want to make sure there is a full investigation into the case.”
The case, Howard said, has brought to light the shortcomings of the justice system, which has now launched a full federal investigation at Gov. Rick Scott’s request.
“The justice system is failing us — not blacks, but us Americans. The justice system is supposed to be colorless and fight for justice for Americans, and they are not doing their job right now, period.”
He said race shouldn’t be a factor in the Martin case, though it is.
“At the end of the day, an innocent young American was killed,” he said. “There is an identified murderer by his own admittance, yet the murderer is still a free man, (and) this is where race becomes so much of an issue. If Martin was not black, he likely wouldn’t be dead and if he was (not black), the murderer would most certainly be in police custody by now. In my opinion, this is a hate crime. It’s encouraging, however, to see people of all races and backgrounds fighting against this injustice.”
Many of Zimmerman’s friends and family members have said Zimmerman was not racist and have said because his mother is Hispanic, he is particularly racially tolerant.
Additionally, last week, an organization calling themselves the New Black Panther Party — despite being rejected by the original party of the ’60s and ’70s — have put out a $10,000 reward for the “capture” of Zimmerman.
Silva said though the motivations may not be clear for Martin’s death, the end result still is.
“We know Trayvon wasn’t doing anything wrong, and he was killed,” he said.