Hundreds of protesters rallied alongside the family of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin in Union Square last night to demand the arrest of the neighborhood watch volunteer accused of fatally shooting the unarmed 17-year-old last month.
Trayvon's father Tracy Martin and mother Sybrina Fulton traveled up from Florida for the rally, where they spoke to the crowd, which included many Occupy Wall Street protesters.
On Feb. 26, George Zimmerman, 28, allegedly shot Trayvon to death as the teen walked home to a gated community. He was unarmed. Zimmerman has reportedly said he acted in self-defense. Police have declined to arrest him.
"I'd like to thank everyone for coming out and supporting my son," Tracy Martin said. We're not gonna stop until we get justice for Trayvon."
"Trayvon was not - and I repeat, was not - a bad boy," he added. "George Zimmerman took Trayvon's life for nothing. My son did not deserve to die."
Trayvon's mother told the crowd her "heart is in pain."
"We need this kind of support," she said to the crowd, many of whom were wearing hoodies, which Trayvon was said to be wearing when he was shot.
The demonstration turned chaotic after Trayvon's parents spoke, when the more than 1,000 people took to the streets near Union Square, reaching from Houston Street up to 23rd Street. More than 100 cops clashed with the protesters as they tried to move the marchers to the sidewalk.
The NYPD said there arrests throughout the day, but didn't have a specific number.
The protest eventually returned to Union Square, where several OWS protesters were arrested earlier in the day when police booted them from the park.
Cops ordered the protesters to leave after midnight, and arrested a few that they said refused to follow orders.
Tensions between protesters and police escalated, according to witnesses.
Gideon Oliver of the National Lawyers Guild, which represents many of the protesters, called the actions by police "another heavy-handed response that was unwarranted."
(with Amanda Dallas)