July 24, 2013
With candles lit and heavy hearts, hundreds of Trayvon Martin supporters gathered in downtown Charlottesville Wednesday night.
The group came together, despite the rain, to rally against what they say is injustice in the George Zimmerman verdict.
The event was organized by University of Virginia third-year student Eden Zekarias.
"We must demand the end of racial profiling. We must demand the end of administrative injustice. We must demand the valuing of black bodies in the court of law and in all other spaces," Zekarias told the crowd.
Several organizations helped sponsor the rally, including the Charlottesville Center for Peace and Justice, First Baptist Church on West Main Street and the NAACP, according to Zekarias.
"What you see here tonight is black people, white people, Hispanic people, Asian people, poor people, rich people. People from across the city, across the county, across our community, working here together," said Wes Bellamy, who helped with the event.
Before the crowd snaked its way from the Free Speech Wall on the downtown mall to the federal courthouse building, several speakers expressed how they think the community can learn from Martin's death.
"We have an obligation to peacefully protest the fundamental flaws and carelessness that we witness," Dr. Rick Turner told the crowd.
"We must push for change that ensures this will not happen again, to work to create laws to make sure that future Zimmerman's do not go free," said speaker Bill Anderson.
During the march, the crowd chanted messages like, "I am Trayvon, we are Trayvon" and "we will move as one."
"Everywhere across the city -- we all are Trayvon. We all are one people. As we were chanting, we will move as one, and that's what we will do from this day forward," said Bellamy. "It's time to put away stupid prejudices about each other. It's time for us to work together right now."
Organizers also passed around a petition calling on local leaders to increase discussions about race, injustice and progress in Charlottesville.