Marching Toward Tomorrow with Trayvon on Our Minds

feature image copyright Kyoko Takenaka 2013

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Photo Copyright Kyoko Takenaka 2013

A gathering of hundreds turned into a march of thousands Sunday in New York City, where there was a mass gathering in Union Square to rally against Saturday’s verdict in the Zimmerman trial.

George Zimmerman, as all we know by now, was found not guilty for the murder of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Martin was unarmed and alone when he was shot in the chest by Zimmerman in February 2012 in Sanford, Florida. Although many are rightfully appalled by the verdict, few who have encountered or observed this country’s (in)justice system can truly consider themselves shocked. In a nation whose pre-eminence relies on the fragile balance between White Supremacy and mass complacency towards it and calls that balance “justice,” it should come as no great surprise when Black bodies are disregarded as valid.

If indeed, America’s dominance relies on that delicate balance, it’s safe to say that Sunday, we began to tip the scales. I have yet to find truly accurate or consistent numbers that reflect the turnout of the march, so for now let’s leave it at “enough to shut down Times Square.” Protestors took the streets at about 6:30pm for an un-permitted march that snaked through the streets, weaving through cars, buses, and trucks, soliciting support from drivers, tourists, and residents, some of whom left their posts on the sidewalks to join the thousands. A little before 9, the march entered Times Square, rallying around various speakers posted on tables, mailboxes, and lamp posts, holding the space until 9:30 when the crowd began to dwindle.

Exhausted after three hours of marching, many headed home, while a few hundred marched on to Harlem – the entire marched covered upwards of 100 blocks – almost six miles over the course of 12 hours.

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Photo Copyright Kyoko Takenaka 2013

The protest was entirely nonviolent, except of course for the part of the NYPD, who stalked participants through the Upper East Side, pepper spraying a woman (who went on to rejoin the march) on Lexington and making about a dozen arrests.

While this action was scheduled in direct response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s murderer, this mass movement was of course provoked by much, much more. In a gathering of thousands, we found a reflection of ourselves. In a demonstration that encompassed a stronger, vaster presence than we ever could have imagined, we found a physical manifestation of our private grief, fear, sorrow, and rage.

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Photo Copyright Kyoko Takenaka 2013

We walked through our city full of fury because the verdict of the Zimmerman trial gave us evidence of what we always knew: that that some lives were not meant for this system, or rather, this system was simply not meant to protect certain lives. We knew always some are more valuable than others, that our justice system is a painful misnomer, that many of us – especially those who are young and Black – are unsafe in our own homes.

But we know something now that we didn’t always know before: we are not alone.

Katrina is the newest editor for {Young}ist. You can follow them on Twitter @KCDanger.


 

Originally published on {Young}ist.org. Republished with permission.

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Katrina is a 23-year-old grrrl splitting her time between her great homeland of New York City and Washington DC. She loves activism and hates sleep, which is convenient because neither of those things really allows for the other anyway. She thinks that slang is rad. As a math equation (with words, because she is bad at math), Katrina would go as such: writer + riot grrrl = wrioter grrrl. When not manifesting itself as a mathematical equation, Katrina’s life usually reads out like a lesbian coming-of-age novel, though sometimes she wishes it were more like a bad 1950s lesbian pulp fiction story. Also, she really, really, truly believes that the revolution is upon us. Come read her rantings about it on her twitter and blog!

Contact: katrina[at]autostraddle.com

katrina has written 64 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. Thumb up 2

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    I haven’t followed the case in detail, but I did hear Zimmerman’s brother-in-law being interviewed on NPR, where he said that it wasn’t until NBC covered the case that the idea that this was a racially-motivated killing was brought up.

    Then again, the brother-in-law also mentioned that Trayvon Martin was “armed” with the pavement.

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    http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/voluntary-manslaughter-defenses.html The amount of lack in knowledge of how the system works in here is mind-boggling. To get manslaughter to stick you still have to prove that there was no self defense and the evidence was severely lacking before I even get into the level of corruption shown by the state attorney and the judge on this case who were so obviously trying to hang this case. The state attorney is supposed to be unbiased and was calling Zimmerman a ‘murderer’ after the not guilty verdict and fired her IT manager for blowing the whistle on obfuscation of evidence to the defense. Not also including the way Obama used the case for personal political gain by fomenting hatred and the judge who was badgering Zimmerman to take the stand.

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      The amount of hateful bias built into how the system works here is mind-boggling. I understand what you’re saying, I know what manslaughter is. Let’s please not pretend that all justice in America is served blindly, fairly, and distributed equally.

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    great work, ñ!

    i think it’s super healthy that as queer people we approach this tragedy with a dash of intersectionality because it is a political issue that affects us too: the violent targeting of specific bodies, the systemic neglect and lack of justice when we fight for our lives, and the cultural JUSTIFICATION of that violence upon us.

    it’s really sad to see people jump to defend a “nation of laws” that up until recently viewed our life partnerships and families as illegal and illegitimate. remember that thing were you couldn’t get married and shit?

    Trayvon Martin was grabbing some snacks and wearing a hoodie, he was attacked, stood up for himself and was consequently murdered all for being “suspicious”.

    Cece McDonald was walking down the street with some friends one night, some racists outside of a bar attacked her for being a black transwoman, she stood up for herself and now she’s in jail. she was suspicious of being black AND queer.

    we are not disconnected from these struggles, because we live in a system that does not value our lives as queer people, as women of all spectrums, as people of color, as workers, as mothers.
    don’t defend zimmerman or what maybe feels like a threat to the privileges you might enjoy because of this “nation of laws”, defend the right for young people to LIVE.

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      Precisely. I’ve been thinking a lot about what this means for people who embody “blackness” and “black masculinity”.

      If black male bodies are viewed as suspicious, criminal and disposable, what does that mean for genderqueer black bodies? What consequences is someone who presents as MOC facing?

      These are the conversations I wish we were having more.

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    Hate to be that person but I’d love to know what rule I somehow broke to get my comments deleted. I don’t remember what I wrote except that the mainstream media over-sensationalized this particular case for ratings, rather than discussing broader social context, and perhaps something about my perspective as a half-black American…

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      it’s likely that the whole thread was scrubbed (your comment was a reply). I can link you to the comment policy, but the gist of it is that we delete a thing and the responses to that thing, otherwise the thread becomes confusing. I hope this helps.

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        Alright, cool (although the comments below were replies to my replies so that confused me more, but I did finally find the comment policy). I cannot remember what the exact context was anyway, so if this is now useless feel free to delete it too.

        Thanks!

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