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Atlanta Daily World Powered by Real Times Media LIVING ADW WELL SPECIAL EDITION Back to School Getting Ready to Head Volume 85 • Issue 51 July 25 - 31, 2013 Atlanta & other cities rally for ‘Justice for Trayvon’ By Bill Barrow Associated Press Photos by Reginald McKie Crowds chanted “Justice! Justice!’’ as they rallied in Atlanta and dozens of U.S. cities July 20, urging authorities to change self-defense laws and press federal civil rights charges against a former neighborhood watch leader found not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. The Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network organized the “Justice for Trayvon’’ rallies and vigils outside federal buildings in at least 101 cities one week after a jury delivered the verdict for George Zimmerman in Martin’s 2012 death in a gated central Florida community. “No justice! No peace!’’ participants chanted. Some sang hymns, prayed and held hands. Many held signs -- in Los Angeles, one read, “This is Amerikkka: From Dred Scott to Emmett Till to Trayvon Martin, black people have no rights that white people are bound to respect.’’ The case has become a flashpoint in separate but converging national debates over self-defense, guns, and race relations. Zimmerman, who successfully claimed that he was protecting himself when he shot Martin, identifies himself as Hispanic. Martin was Black. In Atlanta, speakers noted that the rally took place in the shadows of federal buildings named for two figures who had vastly differing views on civil rights and racial equality: Richard B. Russell was a Georgia governor and U.S. senator elected in the Jim Crow South; the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a son of Atlanta, is the face of the modern Civil Rights Movement. “What’s so frightening about a Black man in a hood?’’ said the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who now occupies the pulpit at King’s Ebenezer Baptist Church. In New York, hundreds of people -- including Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, and music superstars Jay-Z and Beyonce -- gathered in the heat. Fulton told the crowd she was determined to fight for changes needed to ensure that Black youths are no longer viewed with suspicion because of their skin color. “I promise you I’m going to work for your children as well,’’ she told the crowd. Earlier Saturday, at Sharpton’s headquarters in Harlem, she implored people to understand that the tragedy involved more than Martin alone. “Today it was my son. Tomorrow it might be yours,’’ she said. In addition to pushing the Justice Department to investigate civil rights charges against Zimmerman, Sharpton told supporters in New York that he wants to see a rollback of stand-your-ground self-defense laws. “We are trying to change laws so that this never, ever happens again,’’ Sharpton said. Such laws are on the books in more than 20 states, and they go beyond many older, traditional self-defense statutes. In general, stand-your-ground laws eliminate a person’s duty to retreat, if possible, in the face of a serious physical threat. Zimmerman didn’t invoke stand-your-ground, relying instead on a traditional self-defense argument, but the judge included a provision of the law in the jurors’ instructions, allowing them to consider it as a legitimate defense. Neither was race discussed in front of the jury. But the two topics have dominated public discourse about the case, and came up throughout Saturday’s rallies. In Miami, Tracy Martin spoke about his son. “This could be any one of our children,’’ he said. “Our mission now is to make sure that this doesn’t happen to your child.’’ He recalled a promise he made to his son as he lay in his casket. “I will continue to fight for Trayvon until the day I die,’’ he said. Attorney General Eric Holder announced this week that his department would investigate whether Zimmerman could be charged under federal civil rights laws. Such a case would require evidence that Zimmerman harbored racial animosity against Martin. Most legal experts say that would be a difficult charge to prove. Zimmerman’s lawyers have said their client wasn’t driven by race, but by a desire to protect his neighborhood. Associated Press writers Philip Lucas in Atlanta, Charles Wilson in Indianapolis, Amanda Lee Myers in Cincinnati, Christine Armario in Miami and Verena Dobnik in New York contributed to this report. Obama: Martin ‘Could Have Been Me’ 35 Years Ago By Julie Pace Associated Press President Barack grappled with the Trayvon Martin case in the most personal of terms last week, telling Americans that the slain youth “could have been me 35 years ago’’ and urging them to do some soul searching about their attitudes on race. The nation’s first Black president said the nation needs to look for ways to move forward after the shooting and trial in Florida. And he said it may be time to take a hard look at “stand your ground’’ self-defense laws, questioning whether they contribute “to the kind of peace and security and order that we’d like to see.’’ “Where do we take this?’’ Obama wondered aloud during an unscheduled appearance in the White House briefing room. “How do we learn some lessons from this and move in a positive direction?’’ His appearance marked his first extended comments on the Martin case since neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman was acquitted last weekend of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Martin’s death last year. Jurors found that Zimmerman was acting in self-defense when he shot the unarmed Black teenager. Zimmerman identifies himself as Hispanic. Obama said that as people process the verdict, it’s important to put the pained and angry reaction of many African Americans into context. Protests and demonstrations, he said, are understandable, adding that “some of that stuff is just going to have to work its way through -- as long as it remains nonviolent.’’ “It’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away,’’ he said. The president said that distrust shadows African-American men: They sometimes are closely followed when they shop at department stores; they can draw nervous stares on elevators and hear car locks clicking when they walk down the street -- experiences that he said he personally felt before becoming a well-known figure. “It’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear,’’ he said. Obama said Black Americans recognize a history of racial disparities in how laws are applied on the death penalty and involving drug cases, but he also said the African-American community was not “naive about the fact that African-American young men are disproportionately involved in the criminal justice system, that they’re disproportionately both victims and perpetrators of violence.’’ The president said it’s time “for all of us to do some soul searching,’’ though he said it’s generally not productive when politicians try to orchestrate a national conversation that ends up being stilted and politicized. He added that conversations within families and at churches and workplaces, where people may be more honest, could help people to ask themselves, “Am I wringing as much bias out of myself as I can?’’ Overall, Obama said, race relations in the United States actually are getting better. “Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race,’’ he said.

Atlanta Daily World Digital Edition July 25, 2013

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