LI protesters demand 'justice' for Trayvon

A large turnout for the rally in support

A large turnout for the rally in support of Trayvon Martin, Saturday March 31, the African-American teen who was shot and killed by a self imposed neighborhood watchman in Florida. (March 31, 2012) (Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams, Jr.)

Politicians, community leaders and residents from across Long Island rallied Saturday in Hempstead Village to call for justice in the killing of Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.

More than 400 people gathered Saturday afternoon outside Hempstead Village Hall in support of Martin's family.

Participants in the rally -- touted as the first for Martin on Long Island -- condemned the slaying of the black teenager, which protesters decried as "murder."

"We know injustice was done, and we want justice for the Martin family," said Hempstead Village Mayor Wayne J. Hall, who was part of the local Justice for Trayvon Martin Committee. "This is not about black or white. Black or brown. It is about right or wrong."

Rally-goers endured cold weather, light rainfall and overcast skies for more than two hours, carrying signs bearing Martin's image, as they shouted, "No justice! No peace!" Many of the speakers and attendees wore hooded sweatshirts. They held up packs of Skittles candy and bottles of iced tea -- items Martin bought shortly before he was killed. All have become symbols of support for the dead teen.

"I think of the rain as tears we are helping the [Martin] family shed," Hempstead Town Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby said.

Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old, was fatally shot Feb. 26 by George Zimmerman in the city of Sanford, where Martin was visiting. Zimmerman, 28, told police he followed him because the teen, who was wearing a hooded sweatshirt, looked suspicious.

Zimmerman has claimed self-defense. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating the case, and a Seminole County, Fla., grand jury is considering possible charges.

The killing has led to numerous racially charged protests throughout the country and expressions of outrage because Zimmerman was not held and charged. Martin was black; Zimmerman's father is white and his mother Hispanic.

About a thousand protesters marched Saturday to the Sanford Police Department. Activists in Hartford also rallied, calling for justice.

"We will not give up until we see George Zimmerman arrested, brought to trial, and let the justice system take its course," said the Rev. William Watson of St. John's Baptist Church in Westbury.

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