As the sun set over the Mississippi River, a crowd of about 200 gathered Sunday on the levee in downtown Baton Rouge to hold a candlelight rally in honor of Trayvon Martin, the black 17-year-old Florida boy whose shooting death has sparked nationwide protests in recent weeks.
The LSU chapter of Alpha Phi Omega organized the rally. The demonstrators, many of whom were college students and parents with children, wore hooded sweatshirts and carried red bags of Skittles candy to draw attention to the circumstances surrounding the unarmed Florida teen’s Feb. 26 death.
Martin had been walking home from a convenience store, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carrying only Skittles candy and a can of iced tea when he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a Neighborhood Watch captain. Zimmerman, who told police at the time that he shot the teen because he felt threatened, has yet to be charged in the case due to Florida’s “Stand your ground” gun control laws that allow for a broad interpretation of self-defense.
“That could have been me,” said LSU student Kenneth Lockett, 19.
“It’s 2012 and an innocent black child can’t go get a drink and some Skittles?” said Betty Allen, 76, of Baton Rouge. “We should’ve been over this a long time ago. We have to learn to live together in this world. Yes, we have a black president, and we’ve come a long way, but we haven’t come far enough.”
Holding signs that read “Am I next?” and “Justice for Trayvon,” the crowd listened as LSU student Elnora Kelly summarized the events surrounding Martin’s death.
“This is not a black issue or a minority issue but a basic justice issue,” Kelly said, encouraging people of all races to care about what happened to the teenager.
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