By Jane Dail
Monday, July 22, 2013
Between 150 and 200 people gathered at the steps of the Pitt County Courthouse on Sunday afternoon to speak out against the “not guilty” verdict for Trayvon Martin’s killer and encourage the community to act and make positive changes.
The Pitt County Chapter of the NAACP hosted a “Justice for Trayvon” gathering that included religious leaders, elected officials, and leaders from community groups and organizations.
Participants handed out packs of Skittles — the candy that Martin had when he was shot to death by George Zimmerman — to children holding “Justice for Trayvon” and “Stand Your Ground means gun me down” signs.
“What if instead of a pack of Skittles, Trayvon Martin had a gun?” asked Ozie Hall, president of the Pitt County Coalition for Educating Black Children. “What if across America, black youth, instead of having a pack of Skittles, had a gun? What would that turn into? Across America, black leaders are standing up, speaking out because they’re trying to prevent us from getting to a situation where black youth will feel they have to have a gun instead of a pack of Skittles.”
Demonte Alford with East Carolina University’s chapter of the NAACP said he was in Sanford, Fla., where Martin lived and was killed, when Zimmerman’s verdict was read.
“After the verdict came in, I looked to my left and I saw fireworks were shot off over the city of Sanford, Fla.,” he said. “I went back to our hotel in Orlando, and I saw that there were people with Confederate flags driving. … If there is any time that we should be aware of what’s going on, now is it.”
Linda King spoke at the event and said the rally was not just about Trayvon Martin but to also protecting children in the community against violence.
“We want justice for all the crimes that have been committed against our children,” she said. “We need to take our children back. Our children are dying each and every day over senseless crimes. Drugs are on the rise. … We, as parents, we need to get involved.”
Reginald Barrett with the Pitt County NAACP encouraged participants to be politically active and vote against legislation that negatively affects the black community.
“We don’t want (Martin’s) death to be in vain,” Barrett said. “We’ve got to go back to let our legislators know that we won’t stand for this stuff. … We’re going to fight against Stand Your Ground laws around the country. We’re going to fight against racial profiling. We’re going to fight against the (repeal of the) Racial Justice Act. We’re going to fight, and we’re going to stand up.”
Hall also voiced concern about what he believes is a injustice against black youth in the Pitt County school system.
He encouraged participants to attend a trial at the federal courthouse that starts today where Pitt County schools hope to be declared a racially equal system.
“Pitt County Schools said they have been unitary, or they have eliminated all the vestiges of racial segregation in 1972, so there’s no discrimination going on in Pitt County Schools,” he said.
Hall said there is a 207-point achievement gap between black and white students on the SAT and a 40 percent gap in grades in public schools.
He also said black students are being suspended at record numbers.
Barrett said even though many have been affected by violence and discrimination, it has no place in Greenville.
“I’m sure if you look around, violence has hurt somebody’s home other than just in Sanford, Florida, but it’s happening right here in Greenville,” he said. “… We want to stand here and say we don’t want gun violence to continue to be an issue in our community.
“We don’t need it.”
Contact Jane Dail at email@example.com or 252-329-9585.
via The Daily Reflector.