POMPANO BEACH – “No justice, No peace! No justice, No peace!” Carlene Duncan shouted over a microphone as she led a march and rally in the Collier City section of Pompano Beach Saturday in the ongoing outburst of anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
Loudspeakers in the open back of Low Power Funk DJ’s truck blasted music as Duncan called for activism and a group of marchers responded. The march came days after a church service at Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 800 N.W. Eighth Ave., on July 25, where ministers and the congregation prayed for the Martin family.
Florida’s “stand your ground” law, widely believed to be the legal basis for Zimmerman’s acquittal, was at the center of the two events.
The then neighborhood crime watch captain shot and killed Trayvon, a Miami Gardens teenager visiting his father in Sanford, on Feb. 26, 2012, during a confrontation.
Zimmerman was found not guilty by a six-member, all-women jury, five of them white and one an Afro-Latino, on July 13 on second-degree murder and manslaughter charges.
“It could have been your child,” Duncan shouted. “It could have been my child, no matter the color.”
Rain delayed the start of the march for more than 30 minutes, with protesters setting out from the McNair Community Center on the corner of Northwest 27th Avenue and Ninth Court.
With an escort from Broward Sheriff’s Office deputies based in Pompano Beach, the march headed north to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, or Hammondville Road, then east to Northwest 16th Street, before turning back to McNair Center.
The marchers varied in age, from 83-year-old Robert Lewis to 5-year-old Nariya McCleod, both of Collier City.
“We need justice,” Lewis said as he rode a tricycle, wearing a “Justice for Trayvon” T-shirt. “I don’t think my man got justice.”
Durron Brown, 22, visiting from St. Louis, Missouri, joined the demonstration to protest the Zimmerman verdict. “It was messed up that nothing has been done,” Brown said.
The marchers numbered less than 30, but Naterra Adams, 36, of Collier City, saw it as a success.
“They say they want change, but they don’t come out,” Adams said about the absentees. “We sent a message.”
For Duncan, the message was clear. “We want stand-your-ground to be repealed,” she said after the march. “Just because you have a gun doesn’t give you the right to kill.”
Community leaders spoke to the marchers in the McNair Center gymnasium. “The purpose of today is to fight injustice,” said Willie Lawson III, former president of the North Broward NAACP. “What do we do within the system to make change? Every time blacks are victims, it is our fault that justice doesn’t prevail.”
The gathering at Mount Calvary Baptist Church provided an opportunity for ministers and others to speak about the case.
Pastor Anthony Campbell of the 15th Street Church of Christ in Pompano Beach echoed the feelings of many African Americans across the nation.
“Two parents have lost their son,” Campbell said, asking God to “provide healing. Heal their broken heart and spirit.”
“We pray for the Zimmerman family,” he continued. “Some may feel hatred towards their family. Two wrongs don’t make a right. We ask you to be with them.”
Government officials at the church included state Rep. Gwyndolen Clarke-Reed, D-Deerfield Beach, and state Rep. Perry Thurston Jr., D-Fort Lauderdale, Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel, Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and members of the Pompano Beach City Commission: Mayor Lamar Fisher, Vice-Mayor George Brummer and Commissioners Woodrow “Woody” Poitier, Charlotte Burrie and Rex Hardin.
“Local officials are here to support the ministers,” Poitier said.
But while the focus was on healing, some at the meeting spoke on instances of racial profiling, calling attention to a widespread belief that Zimerman profiled Trayvon, leading to the confrontation. Some urged repeal of the stand-your-ground law.
Three members of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity called attention to profiling, one of them saying he was racially profiled by a police officer. The group said in order to change perceptions black youth must change the negative image of themselves.
Israel said he has addressed racial profiling with his officers. “We preach that racial profiling is illegal,” he said. “If a deputy does it, there will be repercussions.”
Gloria Battle, 63, of nearby Deerfield Beach, called attention to the self-defense law, saying rallies alone will not influence politicians in Tallahassee to repeal the law. She said the answer lies in the ballot box.
“We need to show how important the vote is. The people that don’t have our interest are getting elected on off-years,” Battle said. “If we give Gov. (Rick) Scott the pink slip, we can do something about overturning this law.”
Pompano Beach Fire Chief John Jurgle was pleased with the event.
“This is a great way to express their feelings and to try to find some good out of a bad situation,” he said.
*DEMANDING JUSTICE: Charlene Duncan, right, shouts into a microphone during the “March and Rally for Trayvon Martin” Saturday in Pompano Beach.