By Post Staff
Outrage over the killing of 17-year-old Florida teenager Trayvon Martin is continuing to spread across the nation, sparking protests in Oakland and San Francisco and reaching even to the floor of Congress in Washington, D.C.
Martin was shot and killed Feb. 26 by a neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, 28, who claimed self-defense. The police questioned him, but then let him go, saying they did not have enough evidence to charge him.
Contradicting police reports that Martin attacked Zimmerman, breaking his nose, a 90-second video shows police searching a handcuffed Zimmerman, apparently without blood or bruises, as he is led into the Sanford police department on the night of the killing. The police video, which was distributed to the media and available online Wednesday, had not been authorized for release.
“(Martin’s) life was robbed because of suspicion and perception,” said Charley Hames, pastor of BeeBe Memorial Cathedral, speaking at the rally.
The protest was organized by members of the Oakland NAACP and its Oakland Imani Youth Council.
“Every young person in Oakland is important and valuable to our society – their lives are precious. I’m in prayer for Trayvon’s family, as it is an unimaginable loss for a parent to lose a child, “ said Pastor Brondon Reems of Center of Hope Community Church, in an interview after the rally.
Speakers at Monday’s protest at the San Francisco Hall of Justice called for Zimmerman’s immediate arrest.
“We’re tired of saying ‘no more stolen lives,’” said Mesha Monge-Irizarry, whose son Idriss Stelley was killed by the San Francisco Police in 2001. “Now it’s time for action.”
National figures, including the Miami Heat basketball team and President Barack Obama, have spoken out against the incident. The team donned hoodies in solidarity with Martin, while Obama said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.”
Protest reached the floor of Congress on Wednesday when Rep. Bobby Rush told his House colleagues, “Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker,” as he took off his suit jacket to reveal a grey hoodie.
“Just because someone wears a hoodie does not make them a hoodlum,” the Illinois Democrat said, putting on the hoodie and sunglasses.
On the House floor, wearing a hoodie could be considered the same as wearing a hat — a violation of House rules. So said Rep. Gregg Harper, a Mississippi Republican presiding over the chamber when Rep. Rush gave his speech. Harper ordered him to be escorted off the floor.
“I’d like to commend Congressman Rush for pleading our case,” said Tracy Martin, Travvon Martin’s father, when he learned of Rush’s protest.
“Why wasn’t Congressman Rush allowed to address racial profiling?” he asked. ”This is something that needs to be talked about…This is a country of freedom of speech.”