“What’s it going to take in this country for us to realize there is something seriously wrong with justice in this country?” the Rev. William Brown asked of a rally Sunday at Civic Plaza. Demonstrations sprang up in Albuquerque and all across the country Sunday as people said the verdict was a sign of lingering racism in America.
“We can do better,” said Brown, of the Morning Star Baptist Church in Albuquerque.
“We need to remain nonviolent, and we need to remain peaceable, but we need to let our justice system know how despicable” it is, he said.
Marchers called for justice for Trayvon Martin, 17, killed in a case that sparked national debate over racial profiling, equal justice and the right to defend oneself.
Saying that it is “extremely disappointed and outraged” with the jury verdict in the case, the Albuquerque NAACP on Sunday charged in a news release that the verdict “sends a chilling message to the American African community. That message being that our justice system does not always function to protect the innocent and prosecute the guilty.”
Meanwhile, rally signs read “No Justice, No Peace,” and “Stop the Killing,” the last sign held by Charles Powell, who said there are violent disputes every day across the country he blamed on laws that encourage confrontation.
“There’s no telling how many disputes or arguments escalate into someone dying because of laws that encourage people to arm themselves, and then they’re bolder in any dispute that comes up,” he said.
Powell referred to Florida’s “Stand your ground law,” which states that a person may use force justifiably in self-defense where there is reasonable belief that he is being unlawfully threatened.
Powell said the law results in people “saying and doing things they otherwise wouldn’t do and then somebody ends up dead.”
Carmen Gumbs, who was wearing a black ribbon around her arm to protest Zimmerman’s acquittal by a Florida jury, said she was at the protest to try to bring unity to the community and to America.
“Now that the jury has spoken, it’s time to unite,” she said. “And we need to continue to fight for justice and equality.”
Tasha Pitts said she supported calls for restraint and peace by President Obama and the Rev. Jesse Jackson.
“I am in the military, and so I believe people have freedom, but people also need to use restraint and good judgment on how they utilize their rights,” she said.
Dominique Martin said the Trayvon Martin case should now be prosecuted as a civil case by the U.S. Justice Department.
“We have a young man dead, we have a man gone free, and though people say this is not a racial matter, it is a racial matter,” she said. “This has got to stop and it has got to stop now.”
— Outrage over acquittal