March 24, 2012

3,000 march for Trayvon Martin in Finlay Park

About 3,000 people marched in a 1K “Hoodie March” at Columbia’s Finlay Park this morning to honor Trayvon Martin and call for justice in his shooting.

Columbia’s rally is one of many happening around the country this weekend as part of a nationwide outcry over the 17-year-old black youth who was killed Feb. 26 in a gated Florida community by a neighborhood watch captain, some say because of the color of his skin.

The rally, organized in less than three days using social media, brought thousands to the park for a two-hour program that included speakers, a voter registration drive and petition tables.

Kathy Stewart of Irmo, who attended the march with her three sons, said she worried about her boys, who are close in age to Martin.

“It hurt me when I heard (about Martin),” Stewart said. “I thought of my own children. It could be any of them. It’s a wake up call.” Garrison Stewart, 18, Kameren Stewart, 11, and Bryce Stewart, 12, held up signs that read: “I’m a Black Man Am I safe?” “I’m a Hoodie Wearer not a Threat” and “Hoodies (don’t equal) Thugs.”

A moment of silence was held as several of the 911 emergency calls from the incident were played over loudspeakers. Marchers then filled the sidewalk around Finlay Park and chanted, “No Justice, No Peace.”

Many carried cans of ice tea and bags of skittles – the two items Martin was carrying when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman. Zimmerman has not been charged in the shooting.

By midmorning, organizers of a petition drive said they had collected about 2,000 names. The petition is calling for the arrest of Zimmerman.

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