People upset over George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin and what they say is pervasive racial inequality in the U.S. took to the streets across Ohio on Saturday.
Prayer vigils and rallies demanding ‘Justice for Trayvon’ were held in Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo, Akron, Canton and Youngstown.
The rally in Youngstown took place in front of the Mahoning County Courthouse in downtown Youngstown. The event was sponsored by several local groups including the NAACP, Urban League, The Youngstown-Warren Black Caucus and other community groups.
From Youngstown to Washington D.C., supporters of Trayvon Martin’s family could be heard shouting the same chants “no justice, no peace.”
“We’re asking that we do it on the courthouse steps to signify the fact that we are upset,” said Jaladah Aslam, president of the Youngstown Warren Black Caucus. “We don’t believe the Martin family has received justice.”
The rallies drew in supporters of all ages, many still hurt and disappointed by last week’s not guilty verdict that allowed Martin’s killer George Zimmerman to walk away a free man.
“This is an injustice, dead wrong,” said Bruce Woods of Youngstown. “How can a man hunt down a 15, 16-year-old boy and kill for no reason.”
“I just think that the whole situation was handled wrong,” said Cristina Calderon of Akron. “I just felt like Zimmerman shouldn’t have killed Trayvon Martin.”
Several community leaders spoke at the rally, but organizers wanted to hear from area youth about how they were affected by Martin’s death and what can be done to make things better.
“It’s just not justice. It’s just a race thing,” said Daylen Williams of Youngstown. “You just saw a black male walking in the streets with a hoodie on and some tea and skittles, and you think he’s doing something wrong.”
Supporters are also insisting the Department of Justice pursue criminal charges against Zimmerman.
“We also want to send a message loud and clear to all the elected officials who keep proposing and keep passing Stand Your Ground laws that we will be voting. We will be registering to vote and we will vote all of them out of office if they don’t stop putting targets on our children’s backs,” said Aslam.
The nation-wide effort was organized by the National Action Network for a day of solidarity in support of the Martin family.
Zimmerman was acquitted of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in the shooting death of Martin, who was unarmed.
Zimmerman’s attorneys argued that he shot Martin in self-defense, but the case sparked an outcry because Martin was black and Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.