Special to South Florida Times
LIBERTY CITY — “No justice, no peace” was the passionate chant of marchers who carried posters that said two Martins were gone too soon.
The marchers were taking part in the ninth annual “Reclaim the Dream Candlelight Vigil and Memorial Service” held April 4 along the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Boulevard (Northwest 62nd Street) in Miami’s Liberty City community.
The event is presented every year at 6:01 p.m., the exact time when King was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
The observance took on greater significance for many in the vigil because of the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed 17-year-old from Miami Gardens in the Orlando suburb of Sanford by a white neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, 28.
“Dr. King once said injustice anywhere threatens justice everywhere and we as a people need to stand up when we see injustice. The march takes place every year on behalf of Dr. King but this year we also wanted to dedicate it to Trayvon,” said Christine King, president of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Economic Development Corporation which coordinates the event.
It also came days before the special prosecutor looking into Trayvon’s killing said she will not take the case to a grand jury. That move suggested to observers that the prosecutor, Angela Corey, whom Gov. Rick Scott appointed, was preparing to file charges against Zimmerman, who is claiming self-defense under Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
But Corey has said nothing should be read into her decision to forego the grand jury process. She announced she will make an announcement within 72 hours – by Friday.
The Associated Press on Wednesday quoted an unidentified source as saying that charges are being filed against Zimmerman.
Also, Zimmerman’s lawyers quit the case saying they did not know where he is and he has not been communicating with them.
In Liberty City, the call was clear, as it has been across the nation when word of Trayvon’s Feb. 26 death began to spread: arrest and charge Zimmerman.
The streets were lined with hundreds of supporters of Trayvon’s parents and a program held on a stage drew an even larger crowd.
Demetrious Rogers, a 39 year-old Miami native, said he’d never participated in the King memorial before.
“Trayvon was a young man and I have a young son,” he said. “I’m also still a young man and the stigma associated with us [black men] is very negative. I believe if Dr. King were here, he would stand up for Trayvon too.”
Naomi Rolle, 70, said she had taken part in the march before and as a product of the civil rights generation, she felt dedicating the event to the fight for justice for Trayvon made it even more special.
“Since he is a Martin, as well, I think this is important. It is atrocious that this happened to him in 2012 and the time has come for change,” Rolle said. When is it going to be over? I believe if Dr King were here he would be very upset and very angry just as we all are.”
Lashaevia Burns, a 16-year-old junior at Miami Jackson High School in Miami’s Allapattah neighborhood, said she too was in the march for Trayvon.
“I wanted to stand up and speak out on what I believe in, which is justice for Trayvon Martin,” she said.
The event included a unity march, a gospel concert, speeches from clergy and government officials and a candlelight prayer vigil.
Nationally acclaimed gospel artists James Fortune & Fiya, Vickie Winans, the Wardlaw Brothers and SENSERE said they were honored to lend their talents in support of the two-fold cause.
“It’s an honor to be here to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King because the reason I’m able to live my dream now is because he had a dream then,” Fortune said. “As for Trayvon Martin, I’ve been a big activist since I heard the story. I’m just glad to be here to add to this.”
Carl Wardlaw III of The Wardlaw Brothers said he and his brothers agreed to come because events like this were instrumental in promoting what they stood for.
“Martin Luther King paved the way for people of all races and cultures to unite and helped do it on a larger scale than some who came before him,” Wardlaw said. “We definitely wanted to show our support for Trayvon Martin because he was a young black man just like we are and we couldn’t turn a deaf ear to the injustice and violence that took place.”
Trayvon’s parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton were the guests of honor. They said they were overwhelmed by the support and humbled to see their son honored on the same stage as King.
“It’s just overwhelming to see both pictures, Martin Luther King’s picture on top and my son’s picture on the bottom. To see all of the candles lit is just overwhelming,” Fulton said.
“It’s definitely heart-warming,” added Martin, whom Trayvon was visiting when he was shot. “It feels really good and seeing both pictures together brought tears to my eyes. We’ve lost a son that we can never reclaim but the support of family, friends and everyone at these rallies helps fill the void.”
This story was supplemented with staff reports.
Photo: KHARY BRUYNING/FOR SOUTH FLORIDA TIMES
CANDLELIGHT VIGIL: Martin Luther King Jr. and Trayvon Martin were remembered during a march and candlelight vigil on April 4 in Miami’s Liberty City community.