A case involving the death of an unarmed Florida teenager that has gripped the nation for the past several weeks now has taken root in Hinesville.
An estimated crowd of about 75 people gathered Friday night at Full Gospel Tabernacle Church in Hinesville to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African American who was wearing a hoodie when he was shot and killed Feb. 26 in a Sanford, Fla., community.
Though no one has been arrested or charged with a crime, volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman, 28, was questioned by authorities. Martin supporters have said the shooting was racially motivated and are calling for Zimmerman to face charges.
The rally, which drew people of all ages from children to elderly residents, featured a series of speakers who tried to put Martin’s death into perspective. Liberty County NAACP Chapter President Dwight Newbould asked teenagers wearing hoodies and carrying signs in support of Martin to stand next to the podium as he addressed the crowd.
“The No. 1 cause of death facing these young men is homicide,” Newbould said. Citing a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and national health statistics, the chapter president said black teens between the ages of 12 and 19 often fall victim to violent crime.
“We hope, by 19, all of them will come back and stand here with us. An honest fact is, one of them will not be here before their 19th birthday, and it’s not at the hands of just injustice — it’s at the hands of black-on-black crime,” he said.
Newbould said after the rally that one life lost to violence is a tragedy. “We have to reach the young men in this community and stop this epidemic,” he said. “There should be an outcry, whether he is black or white.”
Ebonie Carter, wearing a black hoodie — an item of clothing that has evolved into a symbol of protest in the Martin case — told the crowd she thinks Martin’s death was an act of cold-blooded murder. Additionally, she said, society’s perception of African Americans may have led to the teen’s demise.
“I am not what I stand here and look like. I go to work every day. I’m a single parent. I’m a hard-working woman. I am a citizen in a community. I give just like the next person. Equality is what we need — not just justice. We’re all equal. When we can see that, then it will be a lot better,” Carter said.
After the speeches had concluded, members of the crowd were asked to form a double line in front of the church on Frank Cochran Drive.
The group marched to E.G. Miles Parkway, holding signs and chanting, “We want justice,” “No justice, no peace,” and, “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!”
Passing motorists exhibited support by honking their horns and shouting from windows. One individual gestured his displeasure at the scene as he pulled out from a service station.
Cree Doomes, who, in cooperation with the church, organized the rally, said she had been following news coverage of the events and felt she needed to do something to make the Hinesville community aware of the Martin case.
“I wanted to do something we can all come together and stand up for — something we should all have already, which is justice in this case for Trayvon Martin.”