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Tampa rallies demand ‘Charge Zimmerman now!’

By Matt Hastings |
July 22, 2013
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Michelle Benghtt of Tampa Bay SDS, Jared Hamil and Life Malcolm outside  of the
Michelle Benghtt of Tampa Bay SDS, Jared Hamil, and Life Malcolm outside of the Department of Justice in Tampa on July 19. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Soy Forde with the Justice for Trayvon Coalition of Tampa holds a sign  she made
Soy Forde, with the Justice for Trayvon Coalition of Tampa, holds a sign she made for the vigil.

Tampa, FL - Two protests demanding justice for Trayvon Martin and that the Department of Justice (DOJ) charge George Zimmerman with violating Martin’s civil rights occurred here July 19 and 20.

On July 19, 30 people joined the Justice for Trayvon Coalition of Tampa in protesting outside of the Tampa Middle District Office of the U.S. Attorney. The Middle District Office would be in charge for the DOJ if a federal civil rights violation were brought against Zimmerman. A contingent of the Coalition attempted to walk inside to present their demands directly to the Middle District Office, but was immediately denied entry by armed security guards and then Tampa police. The Coalition was not deterred and continued to protest outside the downtown office during rush hour for three more hours. The group chanted, “Civil rights, aren’t just for whites!” and “Charge Zimmerman now!” drawing support from community members who honked and some who came up to the participants of the demonstration to thank them for pursuing justice.

On July 20, over 400 people rallied outside the Federal Courthouse for Tampa’s National Day of Action for Justice for Trayvon Martin, which saw rallies in over 100 cities. The Tampa NAACP, Democratic Black Caucus, Tampa Dream Defenders and the Justice for Trayvon Coalition of Tampa spoke along with a multitude of community members. Speakers demanded charges be brought against Zimmerman by the DOJ. Life Malcolm, with the Justice for Trayvon Coalition of Tampa, referenced the case of Jennifer Porter who ran over two African-American children in Tampa and served no time in jail. "You can kill an African and go home, but you kill a dog, you go to prison!"

Tampa has seen a high level of organizing around demanding justice for Trayvon, with over 50 people representing community and activist groups attending the initial meeting of the Justice for Trayvon Coalition of Tampa. Plans have already been made for nationwide call-in days to Eric Holder and President Obama demanding justice, as well as local plans to protest outside a local Tampa police station involved in the murder of Javon Neal.

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