'We are all Trayvon Martin': 100 US protests at acquittal of black teenager's killer

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Campaigners call for lethal-force law reform as 100 vigils and demonstrations are held for the teen shot dead after buying sweets

Around 100 vigils and demonstrations for Trayvon Martin, the black teenager killed in Florida when he was shot on his way home from buying a bag of sweets, were held across the US in protest at the acquittal of the man who pulled the trigger.

In New York, the 17-year-old victim’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told crowds outside the Rev Al Sharpton’s offices in Harlem: “Today it was my son, tomorrow it might be yours. Trayvon is not here to speak [for] himself. It’s very important as parents, godparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins that you speak up for your children. Trayvon was a child ... As I sat in the court room, it made me feel like they were talking about another man. It wasn’t. He was a child,” she said.

Husband and wife music stars Jay-Z and Beyoncé met Ms Fulton at the demonstration, where posters bore the words: “Boycott Florida”.

Further demonstrations took place in Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles, with campaigners calling for a reform of “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow lethal force to be used in self-defence.

The protests marked a week since a jury acquitted George Zimmerman of second-degree murder and manslaughter in Sanford, Florida. The neighbourhood-watch volunteer argued that he shot the teenager last February in self-defence having suspected he was a burglar.

It was later discovered the dead teenager had only been carrying a can of fizzy drink and some Skittles bought from a nearby store. He died almost instantly after being shot at point-blank range following an altercation at a gated community which Zimmerman was patrolling.

The jury voted unanimously to acquit Mr Zimmerman on the basis that he had fired the gun believing his life was in danger. The case has sparked national debates about race, civil rights and gun ownership.

The Rev Sharpton told yesterday’s rally: “Jay-Z and Beyoncé said they didn’t want to speak and they didn’t come for a photo op. Beyoncé put a beautiful message up on Instagram. Jay-Z told me: ‘I’m a father. Beyoncé is a mother.’ We all feel the pain and apprehension. The laws must protect everybody, or it doesn’t protect anybody. We do not come from hate, we come from love of children.”

In Miami, the crowds sang the civil-rights song “We Shall Overcome” as they gathered around Tracy Martin, Trayvon’s father.

He said: “It sends a message to the nation that we’re not going to sit back and let our children be killed and don’t say anything about it... I vowed to Trayvon, when he was lying in his casket, that I would use every ounce of energy in my body to seek justice for him ... Senseless violence is a disease and we as a people have the cure, we just need to come together.”

In a surprise intervention on Friday, President Barack Obama made reference in a press conference to the case. “A lot of African-American boys are painted with a broad brush,” he said. “If a white male teen was involved in the same kind of scenario ... both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different.”

He called for any demonstrations to remain peaceful, warning violence would “dishonour what happened to Trayvon Martin”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - An outstanding senior opportunity for...

Sauce Recruitment: Retail Planning Manager - Home Entertainment UK

salary equal to £40K pro-rata: Sauce Recruitment: Are you available to start a...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - London - up to £40,000

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Creative Front-End Developer - Claph...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower