Students and members of the community gathered Wednesday evening at the Rock for “Stand Your Ground for Justice: A Vigil for the Memory of Trayvon Martin.”
The event, which included poetry readings, speeches and a candlelit-memorial honored the life of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed Feb. 26 in Sanford, Fla. (Ed. Note: Martin’s killer, a crime watch volunteer, has yet to be charged or arrested, ostensibly because of broad “Stand Your Ground” laws in Florida that protect those who kill in self-defense. The New York Times has a good summary of the Martin case.)
“We decided to do a vigil because — no matter the outcome of the case — we are celebrating the life that was lost,” SESP senior Tyris Jones said. “It’s a tragedy and an injustice.”
Because of the hoodie Martin was wearing at the time of the shooting, the event’s Facebook group invited participants to upload photos of themselves in hoodies asking, “Am I Suspicious?”
During the vigil, participants put up the hoods of their sweatshirts after speaking in support of Martin. Speakers addressed the community and Martin himself, calling the crowd to action against violence.
“It’s happening,” Jones said before the event, “and it’s happening a lot more than people think.”
The event concluded with a march across campus and a memorial at the Rebecca Crown Center. Organizers read the names of other youths killed under violent circumstances followed by a moment of silence. Courtney Harris held a poster with photos of her and her roommate in hoodies.
“Just last week, it was cold walking home and I had my hoodie up,” the Communication junior said. “It’s all about perceptions and when you add stereotypes, it can end all wrong.”