Thursday, April 24, 2014
PORTLAND — About 200 people attended a rally Monday evening in Monument Square to honor the memory of the Florida teenager who was shot and killed last year by a neighborhood watch coordinator.
Wala Mohamed, left, in yellow shirt, hugs her mother, Abeir Ibrahim, of Portland, while attending a rally in Monument Square Monday, July 22, 2013, in memory of Trayvon Martin, the young black man who was killed last year in Florida. George Zimmerman, who stood trial for the killing, was found not guilty last week.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
Kt Crossman of Vinalhaven holds a sign while listening to Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck address the crowd in Monument Square Monday, July 22, 2013, at a rally in memory of Trayvon Martin, the young black man who was killed last year in Florida. George Zimmerman, who stood trial for the killing, was found not guilty last week.
Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer
Organizers of the rally to remember Trayvon Martin called on the nation's leaders to put an end to racial profiling and for the eradication of stand-your-ground laws in Florida and other states.
Such laws give people the right to use force to defend themselves -- rather than retreating -- from what they perceive to be a dangerous situation.
Martin, 17, was shot and killed in Sanford, Fla., in February 2012 by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman.
Martin, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, was black. Zimmerman, who is a white Hispanic man, was acquitted on July 13 of second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The verdict upset many people across the nation -- and most of those at Monday's rally.
Rachel Talbot Ross, president of the NAACP's Portland branch, said the rally was held to seek an end to gun violence, particularly against young men of color, who she said are being racially profiled by police and others.
She urged people to contact their government leaders and put pressure on them to eradicate all stand-your-ground laws, which she said invite people like Zimmerman to "shoot first" and ask questions later.
"While we are not here to debate the verdict or to demonize George Zimmerman, we do have the right to call on the Department of Justice to investigate (potential civil rights violations) in this case," Ross said.
Portland Mayor Michael Brennan was one of several speakers at the rally.
"I'm not here tonight to retry George Zimmerman, but I am here to put on trial the laws that resulted in the death of Trayvon Martin," Brennan said.
"These (stand-your-ground) laws need to go on trial and be repealed across the country," the mayor said.
"You cannot build community if everyone chooses to stand their ground," he said.
Judi Richardson and her husband, Wayne, of South Portland spoke about gun violence and the effect it has had on their family.
Their daughter, Darien, was shot and wounded in January 2010 during a home invasion in Portland that to this day remains unsolved.
Darien later died from her wounds.
"We need to remember that incidents like the Trayvon Martin shooting and other acts of gun violence can happen in Maine," Judi Richardson told the crowd.
"There has been no justice or rallies for Darien but we feel the pain of all parents who have lost a child to gun violence," she said.
Asher Platts, who also attended the rally, is chairman of the Maine Green Independent Party.
"I'm here today because the verdict was an absolute travesty of justice," said Platts, adding that Florida's stand-your-ground law is "anarchy in the worst way. All it does is create a Wild West situation."
Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:
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Lado Lodoka of Portland holds a sign while observing a moment of peace for Trayvon Martin at a rally in Monument Square Monday, July 22, 2013,
Gabe Souza / Staff Photographer