A march in remembrance of Trayvon Martin began at 3:30 today in the Fruitvale district as part of National Hoodie Day. Today marks the start of the Florida trial of George Zimmerman, the man charged with shooting Martin, 17, last February.
The rally started at the Fruitvale BART station — the same location where Oscar Grant was fatally shot in the back by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in 2009. Like Martin, Grant was also unarmed at the time he was shot. Although Mehserle argued that he meant to fire his Taser at Grant instead of his gun, he was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. Zimmerman has admitted to shooting Martin, but he claims it was in self-defense. He is currently charged with second-degree murder.
D’Andre Teeter of the Bay Area chapter of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said the cases have significant parallels.
“The Oscar Grant case is particularly important, because just like Trayvon Martin, Mehserle would not have been arrested or charged if not for the tremendous outpouring of anger around the country."
Today’s march should continue up to 14th Street and Broadway through 5 p.m. Attendees were asked to wear hoodies in remembrance of Martin, who was carrying a pack of Skittles and wearing a hoodie at the time he was shot.
“The killing of Trayvon Martin and 2.4 million in prison make clear that there is a whole generation of Black and Latino youth who have been marked and treated as a ‘generation of suspects’ to be murdered and jailed,” the Stop the Mass Incarceration Network website states. “This is not an issue for Black people alone but for all who care about justice; it is not a random tragedy. We say NO MORE!”
Additional National Hoodie Day Protests are being held across the country today in cities including New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
As of yet, Teeter isn’t sure what the projected turnout of today’s march will be: “There could be 20 or 30 people or there could be hundreds,” he said.