Students, faculty and community members marched together today through the University of Texas at Arlington campus, demanding justice for Trayvon Martin's death and the arrest of his killer, 28-year-old George Zimmerman.
Hundreds attended the rally organized by the UT-Arlington NAACP chapter, including students from UTD and UNT. Many held signs and Skittles -- like those the unarmed 17-year-old Florida youth was carrying when he was shot to death in February -- as they walked.
"Our voices will be heard in Arlington, our voices will be heard in Texas, our voices will be heard around the world," UT-Arlington NAACP President Dontae Robison said through a bullhorn during a fiery speech. "You're not just marching for Trayvon. You are marching for the people before Trayvon, and you are marching for the people who are going to be after Trayvon."
"We are not going to let the stand your ground law to prevail," he said later in the rally.
Florida's "stand your ground law" -- and similar laws in other states, including Texas -- have drawn harsh criticism after Martin was shot to death by Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida. Because the Florida law allows shooters wide latitude in claiming self defense, Sanford police did not arrest Zimmerman or investigate the shooting in depth. Robison asked demonstrators to sign the petition at change.org calling for the Florida attorney general to prosecute Zimmerman. The nationwide petition already has more than 2 million signatures.
Among the speakers at Monday's rally was Arlington NAACP President Silk Littlejohn-Gamble, who was the victim of racial hatred in 2007 when someone spray painted "Kill, Die Nigger" on her garage doors and a woman hit Littlejohn-Gamble in the face with a 2-by-4, breaking her cheek.
"This is a serious movement," she said. "You can be on board or get left behind."
After the march, demonstrators gathered to hear Dr. Jason Shelton, an assistant professor at UTA. He gestured to his black hoodie, his baggy jeans and his Adidas tennis shoes.
Martin was dressed in a hooded sweatshirt when Zimmerman killed him, leading Fox News host Geraldo Rivera to suggest that Martin's dress contributed to his death. "I am urging the parents of black and Latino youngsters particularly not to let their children go out wearing hoodies. I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin's death as much as George Zimmerman was," Rivera said on the air last week.
"This is how I dress on Saturday," Shelton said. "On Saturday, people don't know I'm Dr. Shelton."
"Realize that this is not just about Trayvon. That could've been me. That could've been you. We have to recognize that Trayvon was done a disservice, an injustice, but he is not alone."
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.