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One year after racist murder: Tampa demands Justice for Trayvon Martin

By Jared Hamil |
February 27, 2013
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Some of the protesters demanding "Justice for Trayvon Martin!"
Above:
Some of the protesters demanding "Justice for Trayvon Martin!" (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Tiffany Schultz sings
Protest Sign
Alexandria Brown of SDS speaks at the rally.
Life Malcolm speaks to the crowd.
Upper right:
Tiffany Schultz sings (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Upper left:
Protest Sign (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Lower right:
Alexandria Brown of SDS speaks at the rally. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Lower left:
Life Malcolm speaks to the crowd. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Tampa, FL - Feb. 26 marked the one-year anniversary of Trayvon Martin's murder. Students and community members met in front of the student union on the University of South Florida campus demanding justice for Martin and an end to Florida's 'Stand Your Ground' Law. This law legalizes murder on the grounds of self-defense. The state government and judges use it to let white murderers go free for killing African-Americans and Latinos. The same is true for George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s murderer, whose lawyers are attempting to get his charges dropped.

Over 70 people rallied in Tampa, as part of a national day of action. Participating cities included Salt Lake City, Utah; Milwaukee, Wisconsin and others. Groups present at the Tampa rally included: Dream Defenders, USF Triota [Women Studies Honor Society], A.N.G.E.L.S, Students for a Democratic Society, and Uhuru Solidarity. As the sun went down, the protesters heard from a few speakers.

The day before the gathering, the university administration attempted to shut down the event and threatened activists with a fine of almost $700. They also planned on sending police to the event in order to intimidate those speaking out against racial injustice. This is nothing new for the USF administration. Late last year, the administration tried to intimidate activists when they organized a candlelight vigil for Jordan Davis, another African-American teen murdered under Florida's Stand Your Ground Law. (http://www.fightbacknews.org/2012/12/4/tampa-dream-defenders-hold-vigil-...)

The University of South Florida has repeatedly shown that they will attempt to silence anyone speaking out against racism and oppression.

With police present and a crowd of angry youth, the rally continued. They heard from a few speakers and chanted, “The people united will never be defeated.” The crowd heard from Cornelius Williams, a personal friend of the late Trayvon Martin. Another speaker, Adranna Witherspoon of A.N.G.E.L.S said, “Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis are a wake-up call. This YOLO [You Only Live Once] lifestyle was a dream sold to us in a song, and we bought it. But what happened to them can happen to you!” Tiffany Schultz performed a song, ending it with, “Stand up for Trayvon!”

Life Malcolm, a community member said, “Everyone here is old enough to know how foul and disgusting this system is... We have the right, just as Trayvon had the right to live. This is more than just Stand Your Ground. There is a war in this country, where helicopters, violence, and police oppress people like they do in Afghanistan. But this goes down in East Tampa, and we live in occupied territory. This is a war against the oppressed, brought on by the oppressors.”

As the rally closed, Marisol Marquez, a Chicana activist, with Dream Defenders spoke to the crowd. “Black and Brown people in this country are incarcerated more than anyone. And with the highest prison population in the world, it shows how the system keeps us down. The courts, the prisons and the laws are all designed to oppress us. We must stand up! We must fight back, because within the people there is power.”

Dream Defenders is planning more actions around George Zimmerman's pre-trial hearing which will happen on April 22. This pre-trial will determine whether or not Zimmerman's charges will be dropped. As shown in Tampa, the people will not stand for this. They demand justice for Trayvon Martin and that Zimmerman be convicted of murder.

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