Yorkers will join people across the nation in a peaceful demonstration Saturday to honor the life of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager whose killer was acquitted Saturday of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
Organizer Sandie Walker said she envisions a prayerful vigil near the York County Judicial Center to honor Martin followed by a speaker-driven discussion of the larger issues surrounding the emotional case.
Walker said she'd prefer to avoid focusing on George Zimmerman's not-guilty verdict.
Opportunity: Instead, the York City School Board member said, this is an opportunity to talk about racial profiling and weaknesses in the United States' judicial system.
"We have to be aware of the fact that race does still play a part, even if it's unconscious or conscious, it does affect how people act and how they react at times," Walker said. "Let's just be honest and speak about it."
The group will gather at noon Saturday near the courthouse, 45 N. George St. Other cities across the nation are planning similar vigils, Walker said.
The case: On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, followed 17-year-old Martin as he walked to the home of his father's girlfriend after buying snacks at a convenience store. Following a struggle, Zimmerman shot the unarmed black teenager in the chest. He claimed self-defense.
The acquittal has triggered emotional outrage, especially among those who believe Zimmerman targeted Martin because of the way he looked.
"I don't know what happened during those minutes when they encountered each other," Walker said. "But what I do know is another life has been lost."
March in D.C.: Another group of Yorkers is planning to join a protest march in Washington, D.C., next week.
One of the organizers, Rebecca Moore, said the Zimmerman case touched a nerve with her especially because of her own experience as a neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman should never have followed Martin, especially after a 911 dispatcher advised him not to, she said.
"If you're fearful for your life, you're not getting out of your vehicle and approaching anybody," Moore said.
A bus seating 55 people will leave York from Small Athletic Field at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 24. In Washington, they'll join a 3 p.m. march to the U.S. Department of Justice building.
Organizers split the cost of the bus 55 ways, resulting in each seat costing $23.
The money is due Monday. Contact Moore at (717) 424-3676 to reserve a spot on the bus.
"An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere," Moore said. "If we keep sitting back and allowing the injustice to prevail, we're just as guilty as the person that's creating the injustice."
-- Erin James may also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.