Hundreds protest Zimmerman verdict, call for change in Portland
PORTLAND, Ore. - Hundreds gathered at Portland's Peninsula Park Sunday afternoon to protest George Zimmerman's acquittal in the deadly shooting of Trayvon Martin.
The protest was one of many across the country on Sunday after Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder or manslaughter. Zimmerman maintained he shot 17-year-old Martin in self-defense.
"We want to see people organize and mobilize in large numbers to put pressures of the police and justice system to produce fairness and racial equality," said Portland protest organizer Jamie Partridge.
Many protesters chanted and held signs. They took turns expressing their feelings on stage before marching to North Killingsworth Street and Albina Avenue near Portland Community College.
"I'm Trayvon. The color of my skin, I could be wearing a hoodie, and that could have been me," said organizer Apela Barclay.
Rochelle Hart says she can't help but see Trayvon Martin in her five-year-old son.
"I know there is still a very real portion of America that (thinks) just him walking down the street in a hoodie means he's a thug," said Hart. "He could be a scholar.
"He had a fundraiser, independent idea of his own, at four years old, to feed the homeless," she said.
Hart said she helped her son raise close to $1,000. But with the pride she feels, she fears for her son's future.
"I am heartbroken that anybody can kill any unarmed teenager and be at home free tonight," said Hart.
"We have an opportunity that 15 years from now when my son is walking in that affluent neighborhood with a hoodie on, he isn't automatically suspicious because of the color of his skin."