Rapper Jay Z and his wife, R&B singer Beyonce, joined the Rev. Al Sharpton and Trayvon Martin’s mother at a Saturday rally for Martin in Harlem, N.Y.—one of at least 100 protest gatherings scheduled to take place across America.
Sharpton’s National Action Network organized the “Justice for Trayvon” rallies and vigils outside federal buildings from New York and Los Angeles to Wichita, Kan., and Atlanta, where people stood in the rain at the base of the federal courthouse, with traffic blocked on surrounding downtown streets. Most rallies were scheduled for noon local times.
Jay Z with Justin Timberlake dedicated the song “Forever Young” to Martin during their closing number at Yankee Stadium Friday night: “Everybody put a cell phone and light it up,” Jay Z said according to TMZ, “let’s light the sky for Trayvon Martin tonight in here.”
Beyonce dedicated her rendition of “I Will Always Love You” to Martin during a concert a week ago today, just after George Zimmerman was acquitted of murdering the unarmed teenager in Sanford, Fla., last year.
In addition to pushing the Justice Department to investigate civil rights charges against Zimmerman, Sharpton told supporters outside his headquarters on W. 145th Street that he wants to see a rollback of stand-your-ground self-defense laws.
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I am privileged and honored to be speaking at the Vigil for Trayvon Martin, part of the 100 City Vigil, organized by the Nat’l Action Network (NAN) and headed by the Rev. Al Sharpton. The Vigil will take place on Saturday, July 20, 12 NOON. The location is at the Billy Gene Jackson Sr. Park, 420 N. Lake Park Drive, Salisbury.
As most of us, I was shocked and bewildered by the prosecution’s failure to obtain a guilty verdict against Zimmerman. It seemed clearcut to me, as a former practicing attorney who had handled many criminal trials, that the issue upon which the entire case turned, was Zimmerman’s failure to follow the directions of a police officer. When he called 911 to report “suspicious activity” by a African-American youth, he was directed to stay in his car and not approach the individual. The resulting injuries he suffered and the death of Trayvon Martin, can be directly linked to his refusal to follow those directions. He put his life, and the life of Trayvon Martin, in jeopardy, by failing to stay in his car and instead, following, approaching and confronting a young man who had committed no crime, and for which he had no authority to act. The only reason Zimmerman felt safe enough to challenge the young man is because he knew that if things got out of hand, he had a “great equalizer” that he could use to end any violence. Such is not the actions of a brave and moral man, but, instead, they are the actions of a bully vigilante, intent on creating a situation where he could retaliate, free from repercussions, against those “punks.”
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