July 25, 2013
By Troy Tieuel
LAWT Contributing Writer
Hundreds of Los Angeles residents gathered at a Federal court building downtown Saturday July 20, to join Reverend Al Sharpton, Pastor K.W. Tulloss and the National Action Network in a ‘Justice for Trayvon 100 City Vigil.’ Tulloss, who is NAN’s western regional director hosted the event. The Downtown LA vigil was one of many Trayvon Martin inspired gatherings, marches and rallies happening all over Los Angeles and the nation.
“The purpose of this gathering,” stated Tulloss, ”was for us to come together and continue to ask the Department of Justice to file [and investigate the] civil right violations against Trayvon Martin. We recognize that Trayvon Martin’s civil rights were violated that night.”
An emotional crowd chanted “No Justice, No peace!” and other civil rights era inspired slogans including raised fists and picket signs reading “The whole system is racist,” and “Stop racist murders.” Although critics have come out against the racial implications suggested by Sharpton and others, there is no doubt that race among other things, played a huge role in the events that led to Martin’s death and the alleged mishandling of the case by Florida police, prosecutors and its legal system. That system has come under fire as of late with allegations of jury tampering, including unsupervised family visits and lavish outings by the supposedly sequestered jury.
This is all in addition to a boycott of Florida by many entertainers spearheaded by Stevie Wonder that includes superstar acts like Bruce Springsteen, Jay Z, Kanye West, Mary Mary and Beyonce. Protesters deemed Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground Laws’ to be unfairly implemented, citing cases where African-American defendants receive 20 years for a warning shot, and Caucasian defendants get acquitted for shooting and killing an unarmed teen. “We need to levy Federal charges against the courts in Florida,” exclaimed Reverend Tory Collins who spoke at the rally as the crowd roared in agreement.
Tulloss, along with Sharpton and the NAN, are demanding, in addition to the Federal civil rights investigation and the boycotting of Florida, the changing of the ‘Stand your ground laws in 33 different states. “When young men of color in places like New York City are disproportionately stopped and frisked by the police, we need more than just talk,” said Sharpton on the NAN website, “Now's the time for legislative action.”
Among those speaking at the late morning rally, were Reverend Omarosa Manigault, community activist and Sentinel contributor Jasmyne Cannick, Los Angeles Urban League CEO Nolan V. Rollins, and community activist Molly Bell.
Cannick urged the crowd to make sure they did their civic duty and follow through with any jury summons that they might receive in the future. “We need to sit on juries,” Cannick explained. “We need to be the peers. We need to be the ones making these decisions. [Avoiding jury duty] is how a George Zimmerman could be acquitted.”
“We have come out here to remember, to honor the memory of Trayvon Martin,” said Omarosa, “We have come with a purpose. Let us not forget why we are here rallying across this country, 100 cities standing tall with the Martin Family. We cannot allow the momentum to die down.”
“The NAN is planning a ‘50 Year March on Washington’ in August with a similar march to occur here in Los Angeles for those who can’t make it to Washington DC,” said Tulloss. The 50 Year March on Washington’ is set in remembrance of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s historic legacy and his march on Washington during the civil rights era.
For more information on the National Action Network, go to http://nationalactionnetwork.net/.