(INDIANAPOLIS) - More than 2,000 people in Indianapolis joined a nationwide march to raise awareness in the shooting of a 17-year-old African-American.
They marched from Crispus Attucks School to American Legion Mall Monday, and continued on to Monument Circle. Indianapolis Metro Police estimated the crowd to be around 2,500. The march was peaceful, although police directed traffic to accommodate the large crowd.
Their march comes one month after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in central Florida. His killing has ignited racial tensions.
28-year-old George Zimmerman claims Martin attacked him and he fired in self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground" law, which doesn't prosecute in cases of self-defense. Zimmerman has not been charged.
911 tapes of the incident revealed a dispatcher told Zimmerman not to follow the teen and to let police handle the matter.
"Who gave you the right to play God," asked Michael Johnson of Zimmerman. "Now, Mr. Zimmerman, if you was right, then why didn't you just get in your car and wait for 911 to come?"
"He should have listened to the police and not even went out," said Serrita Brown.
"He was a vigilante. He took justice into his own hands and he should pay for what he did," said Charles Taylor of Indianapolis.
"I know he outweighed him by probably a good 100 pounds. If it was self-defense and you were told by police to stay in the vehicle, why would you get out of the car and follow him?" said Farzaneh Sidareti, Indianapolis.
"You're always gonna have people that are stereotyped; people that are racist. It's a shame in the year...2012 that this type of prejudice still goes on. Black is not a bad thing," said Taylor.
"It could easily happen here," said Lionel Muse Sr., who brought his two-year-old son Langston to the march. "I think this is more a human issue than it is race. You being judged by your attire or walking in a certain neighborhood, that you would be picked out like that."
The rally and march mirrored others that have gone on all across the country with a similar message.
"He is Trayvon with a hoodie on. He is Trayvon," said Angela Pennington, holding the hand of her seven-year-old son Kendrick as they walked. "He said, 'They marched in grandma's days.' We're still marching in 2012. He's seven and he knows that."
Pennington, like the others who rallied, called for Zimmerman's arrest.
"As an American, we all should be outraged," said Pennington of how the case has been handled.
The thousands who rallied not only wore hoodies to remember Martin, many also carried iced tea and Skittles. Police found both on Martin following his death. He was unarmed.
"Do I look like a criminal or something?" asked 17-year-old Gregory Brown, who was wearing a hoodie as he signed up to become a registered voter.
The FBI and Justice Department are investigating Martin's death. Brown said what happened to Martin wouldn't be the first time a young man of color was judged by a stranger for what he was wearing. Brown was sure too, it wouldn't be the last.
"I see it all the time," Brown said. "Just in the community. School. Everywhere."
Hundreds of people in Sanford, Florida gathered at a community forum and rally to demand justice. Martin's parents and Rev. Al Sharpton marched to the city commission Monday.
Martin's mother claims authorities are trying to demonize her son by leaking information to the news media that marijuana was the reason for his suspension from school.
Sybrina Fulton said Monday that unnamed investigators were trying to destroy her 17-year-old son's reputation. Sanford police say it's possible the information was leaked to the media, but it was not authorized.
Martin was suspended by Miami-Dade County schools officials after marijuana residue was found in a baggie in his book bag.
The attorney for the Martin family says the suspension has no bearing on whether Zimmerman should be charged for fatally shooting Martin on Feb. 26.
Indiana Black Expo response
Indiana Black Expo, says it plans to launch a statewide strategy "designed to transform outrage into constructive engagement" in response to the shooting of Trayvon Martin.
Tanya R. Bell, President and CEO of Indiana Black Expo, is urging each of the 12 chapters of Indiana Black Expo to either partner with existing activities in local communities or act as the catalyst to initiate demonstrations, protest marches, town hall meetings, vigils, workshops and other public forums to address the issue. The project is dubbed, "We Are One."
The IBE Indianapolis Chapter will host its first "We Are One" event in mid-April.
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