The Verdict of Trayvon Martin and the Flood that Followed

The streets of New York have flooded again, but Hurricane Sandy is nowhere to be seen when I look out my window.

Instead, the streets were flooded with a more powerful force, one that demands not just physical change and power, but a change in morality and law. 
The streets were flooded with people, but not just any people: furious people, sad people, expectant people, but most importantly, people ready (and clamoring) for a change.

On Saturday, July 13, a year and a half after the untimely death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman, the man who shot and killed him, was found not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter. The public, whose outcry was immense after the original incident in February 2012 (a Change.com petition from Martin’s family asking for Zimmerman to be prosecuted garnered over 250,000 signatures in the first few days), had an even fiercer response after the verdict was read.

My jaw dropped when I realized that the chanting and shouting wasn’t coming from my TV, but from outside my window. It essentially hit the floor when my eyes took in the thousands of people flooding the streets of New York City, fighting for Trayvon Martin and the shocking verdict made just 24 hours before.

“I was at a going-away party for a friend at a bar, when our waiter came over to tell us that the verdict for the Trayvon Martin case was about to be announced,” Kiana,* a protester from the march told me while we walked. “They put it on TV, and the everyone in the bar screamed and burst into tears when the verdict was read. It wasn’t just a sad day for Trayvon; it was a sad day for humanity and justice.”

Among the shouts heard while I walked among the protesters, a few heard were, “We are Trayvon Martin!”, “Justice for Trayvon Martin!”, “What do we want?” “Justice!” “When do we want it?” “Now!”and “They can’t shut us up! NYPD got to go!” Many protesters and marchers carried black balloons, in mourning for Trayvon Martin, and others carried signs with varied messages, from Malcom X quotes to “RACISM KILLS.”

This isn’t the first march to take NYC by storm in honor of young Trayvon Martin and in hopes to bring attention to the injustice that occurred to him. On March 21, almost a month after Trayvon was shot by Zimmerman, hundreds of people took to the streets in a protest named the “Million Hoodie March,” named so because of the assertion by Zimmerman that Trayvon looked “suspicious” in his hooded sweatshirt.

Outrage came from innumerable sides of the spectrum, but primarily, from those searching for answers for why someone would attack a 17-year-old and wondering if they could still trust in the US’s judicial system.

When I asked Kiana what she thought the solution was, she took a few seconds before answering.

“Unfortunately, the law rules. And ultimately, we have to listen to the law. Although I don’t agree with the ruling that happened yesterday, I have to live by it. There’s nothing we can do about that, and that’s the saddest part. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do anything about what happens in the future. While I’m glad I’m marching, most of the people here don’t realize that the most powerful thing you can do to fight back is to educate yourself.”

It would be impossible for me to attempt to describe what it’s like to be in a flood like this without using one of the worst cliches, but in this situation, it can be used to most accurately describe what it was like in the march: emotions ran high.

I would love to hear your thoughts and opinion on this controversial case – whether by comments below or by email, let me know how you’ve been affected by this case and whether you agree with the decision made or not, and why.

What are your thoughts on the Trayvon Martin case? Do you believe our judicial system is trustworthy? If not, what do you think is the best way to fight back against a verdict you don’t agree with? If so, what do you think needs to change in order for others to trust in the system again too? Do you think the jury made the right call?

For longer videos with audio of the crowd and the chants, visit my Twitter for my Vine videos.

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Julia Jean Kennedy

Julia Jean Kennedy

Preferring basketball over barbies, travel over tutus, and almost any chatter that could somehow relate back to Harry Potter, Julia is always game for a beer and an impromptu booking of a ticket to a game, country, or even the latest Fast and Furious movie. Here, find random thoughts, tidbits about trips, and occasionally Seattle Seahawks propaganda.

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