One week after a jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of an unarmed teen, thousands of Chicagoans rallied at the corner of Adams and Dearborn Streets to demand justice for Trayvon Martin.
The Florida case has become a flashpoint in separate but converging national debates over self-defense laws, guns, and race relations. Zimmerman, who successfully claimed self-defense, identifies as Hispanic. Martin was black.
Chicago’s "Justice for Trayvon" rally, held in the city's Dirksen Federal Plaza, was in conjunction with ones organized by Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network in at least 101 cities.
Thousands joined the movement in Chicago Saturday, many hoisting signs that read #Chi4Trayvon and “Justice for Trayvon.”
“There is a war going on in your city,” said Attorney Andre Grant at the Loop rally. “There are black men dying at alarming rates.”
In addition to pushing the Justice Department to investigate civil rights charges against Zimmerman, Sharpton told supporters he wants to see a rollback of stand-your-ground self-defense laws.
Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at the rally where he called for a boycott of Florida until the stand-your-ground law is dismantled.
“We must boycott Florida and stop stand-your-ground.’”
Many, however, said the law needs addressing closer to home.
“Things like this do happen in Chicago all the time,” said Sarah Miles. “We definitely need to change the stand-your-ground law; we need to start with the laws.”
Those laws are on the books in more than 20 states, and they go beyond many older, traditional self-defense statutes. In general, the laws eliminate a person's duty to retreat in the face of a serious physical threat.
“It could have been one of my sons walking home,” said Pamela McMiller. “My son is a hoodie wearer and I worry about him every day, now I worry moreso.”