According to one Bay Area congresswoman, racial profiling, hate crimes and a powerful gun lobby have created a "toxic and deadly mix" and a nationwide attitude that makes the death of 17-year-old Florida boy Trayvon Martin a cause for national attention.
Martin was shot and killed on Feb. 26 in Sanford, Florida, by a neighborhood watch commander, George Zimmerman, who told 911 dispatchers that he was following a suspicious person in his gated community.
Martin was unarmed and carried only a pack of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea at the time of the confrontation. Zimmerman, who defied 911 dispatcher's orders to stop trailing Martin, has not been arrested nor charged with a crime.
Congresswoman Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, after attending today's House Judiciary Committee briefing on racial profiling and hate crimes, offered her condolences to Martin's family and said that a similar tragedy could happen anywhere in the U.S.
"Sanford could be anywhere," she said, because of a pervasive tendency to condone guns on the streets, racial profiling and hate crimes, which has created the environment that allowed for something like Martin's death to happen.
"This is a defining moment where we really have to begin to deal with some of the very ugly issues that continue to be swept under the rug."
Locally, the solidarity movement is growing, with people having gathered on the steps of Oakland and San Francisco city halls for rallies in the past few days to call for Zimmerman to be brought to justice.
People gathered last Wednesday at San Francisco's Justin Herman Plaza to take part in the Million Hoodie March, which coincided with an event happening in New York City.
"We are tired of bearing the pain of an unjust criminal justice system that does not value the lives of our children, our sons," the event description read. "We must stand together with our grief, with our rage, and our determination."
A news release issued for Monday's Oakland rally, which was sponsored by the NAACP Oakland Branch Imani Youth Council, instructed attendees to "bring your hoodies, some Skittles, and a soda."
Tonight, a talk entitled "Hoodies, Hijabs & Hearts" will be held at Oakland's Main Library to shed light on the injustice surrounding Martin's death.
Congresswoman Lee said that as an African-American parent of two sons, every day she feared for their safety and her fears were realized in Martin's death.
"Those fears haunted me each and every day," Lee said.
A rally in Trayvon's honor is planned for 6 p.m. Wednesday at San Francisco's Glide Memorial Church.
According to the church, the rally intends to provide the community with a forum for sharing their thoughts and solutions for "breaking
the cycles of racism in the U.S."
— Bay City News
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