Supporters honour Trayvon Martin

2013-02-27 10:00
Demonstrators attend a vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman in New York. (Immanuel Dunand, AFP)

Demonstrators attend a vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of the fatal shooting of black teenager Trayvon Martin by neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman in New York. (Immanuel Dunand, AFP)

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New York - Activists rallied on Tuesday in several US cities to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager shot dead in a racially charged incident exactly a year ago.

Martin, aged 17, was shot dead on a rainy night in Sanford, Florida gated community by George Zimmerman, aged 29, a white Hispanic volunteer night watchman. Zimmerman had followed Martin and said he fired in self-defence following a struggle with what he had thought must be an intruder.

Martin's parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, as well as actor Jamie Foxx, were among around 100 protesters at New York's Union Square late on Tuesday for an event being billed as a "Million Hoodie Vigil".

"I am Trayvon Martin," they chanted, many wearing the hooded sweatshirts, or hoodies, like the one worn by Martin when he died.

"I am a mother of two boys, one on Earth and one in Heaven and I will continue to fight for my boys," Fulton declared. Foxx then hugged her as candles were lit in memory of the teenager.

Rally organiser Stephanie Colon said the demonstration was about the bigger picture that Martin's case illustrated.

"I am here as a mother and a grandmother outraged about the violence against black and Latino youth. I am going to speak out," she said.

Widespread outrage

Police initially released Zimmerman after the shooting, because they said he was acting in accordance with controversial Florida self-defence laws.

The case fuelled widespread outrage that led to rallies around the country. The Martin family claimed that Zimmerman only felt threatened by the teen because he was young and black.

Zimmerman was later arrested and faces a second-degree murder charge when his Florida trial begins on 10 June. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges, which could see him face life in prison if convicted.

"We just want to have that trial, and let the jury decide," Fulton told CNN late on Monday. "And whatever decision comes out of that, we're going to accept that.

"We may not like it, but we're going to accept it," she said.

Candlelight vigils were also scheduled on Tuesday for Sanford, Florida as well as other cities including Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Supporters said they were gathering for a moment of silence to honour the late teen, who would have turned 18 on 5 February, as well as "all victims of senseless gun violence", the family's law firm said.

- SAPA

Read more on:    george zimmerman  |  trayvon martin  |  us
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