Trayvon Martin rally in Harlem calls for changes
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The daughters of the Rev. Al Sharpton led about 100 people on a march in Harlem Sunday to rally against the killing and not-guilty verdict this month in the Trayvon Martin case, capping a weekend of protests that organizers say must continue to bring changes that would prevent similar deaths.
As a movement across the country further coalesced over the weekend, about 100 people marched down Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard from 145th Street to 125th Street, stopping to rally in front of the Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office in the hot afternoon sun.
"We are going to protest for however long it takes," said Ashley Sharpton, 25, president of Sharpton Entertainment, who organized the protest with her sister, Dominique, 26, membership director of their father's National Action Network.
When the marchers, most of whom were African-American like Trayvon Martin, reached 125th Street, their rally included a session in which the group prayed for justice for the Florida teen, who was killed last year in a suburban townhome subdivision by a neighborhood watch leader armed with a gun.
Though the protest was much smaller than a rally on Saturday in front of One Police Plaza, which featured Al Sharpton and was attended by entertainers Jay-Z and Beyoncé, the marchers were every bit as passionate.
Protesters carried signs as they marched down one lane of Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, yelling chants such as "Rest in peace, Trayvon Martin," "No justice, no peace!" and "Who are we? Trayvon Martin!"
Passersby clapped, cheered and chanted with the protesters, with some walking off the sidewalk to join the march.
Organizers said it was important that people continue to voice their opinions about the case.
"We wanted to do something to change the situation," said Dominique Sharpton. "The more we come out, the more we come out in a big way, the closer we are to a solution. We chose to march 20 blocks today, to make it something that was not too much."
Ashley Sharpton said her father, whose National Action Network organized protests around the country Sunday, planned to go to Florida this week to continue to protest the verdict and to work on getting support to repeal Florida's "stand your ground" law. The group has circulated a petition online calling on the Justice Department to complete an investigation into any civil rights violations committed by George Zimmerman, who was cleared by a jury of six women in Sanford, Fla.
She said events would be planned in the coming weeks in New York City in advance of a large rally scheduled for Aug. 24 in Washington on the 50th anniversary of The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech.
Later, a group of about 50 people held a rally on 125th Street at Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, starting about 6 p.m. Speakers at the second protest, which was organized by the December 12th Movement, gave more vocal calls for justice for Martin.Marchers at the earlier rally said it was important for those upset by the verdict to continue to protest.
"We will walk, dance, sing and shout until justice has been served," said Fern Davis, a mother of two from White Plains who attended the march. "We have to keep this kind of behavior up to keep pressure on the judicial system. I still can't understand how this happened. Something has to be done. . . . I'm praying that this won't die down. I'll be here for the duration."
Others said that although the turnout was small, the fact that people continued to voice their opinions was an encouraging sign.
"I think people coming out is a sign that we do have the energy to make something happen," said the Rev. Kelvin Dove, who runs Men of Conscious Action, a group of ex-felons working with youths in Brooklyn.
"Nothing is more valuable than our youth, and we must fight for them."