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Oakland residents gather to “demand justice” in Trayvon Martin case

on April 11, 2012

Protesters gather at International and 71st Avenue.

Trayvon Martin was killed more than six weeks ago, and Oakland and Sanford, Florida are nearly 3,000 miles apart. But that didn’t dim the outrage of a group of about 30 people gathered at the intersection of International Boulevard and 71st Avenue in East Oakland on Tuesday afternoon to “demand justice for Trayvon Martin.”

“It’s been six weeks since Trayvon was murdered and Zimmerman is still walking free. What kind of a system is this?” said D’andre Teeter of Berkeley, an organizer for the demonstration. “This is a system that protects this kind of racism.”

Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida, on February 26. The shooting has sparked outrage across the country because Martin was a 17-year-old African American who was unarmed, and Zimmerman, a 28-year-old Hispanic who was a community watch coordinator, has not been charged with a crime.

Teeter said Tuesday was a “National Day of Outrage” over Martin’s killing. Members of Revolution Books, a communist organization that has a location in Berkeley, passed out copies of the Revolution newspaper, which had “Day of Outrage: April 10” and “We are all Trayvon Martin” written on the cover.

Teeter said the protest was held at 71st and International because that was where a man named Brownie Polk was killed by police when they alleged he pulled a hatchet on an officer on a Saturday night in July 2009. “He was a well loved member of the community who welcomed all people,” Teeter said of Polk.

Some of the people in the crowd at International and 71st held a long white sign that read, “We Are All Trayvon Martin, The Whole System is Guilty.” There was also a bullhorn set up for anyone who wanted to say something about the Martin case.

“Get out of your cars and represent, we’ve been oppressed for years,” Oakland resident Sharlana Turner yelled at cars as they drove by on International. “Get out here and get organized.”

Samantha Love, a Laney College student, was in the street with a sheer rain poncho and a sign hanging around her neck that read, “We Demand Justice.” Love said she heard about the protest from fliers on campus. “This shows a lot of people are against this,” Love said. “We’re not just sitting in our houses, we’re outside in the rain.”

After about an hour protesting at International and 71st, the group marched a block down to the busier intersection of International and Hegenberger. Rain continued to fall as protesters implored cars driving by and people walking by on the sidewalk to “join us.”

Tone Jackson of Oakland said he attended the protest because of his “sorrow for that young man and his family.”

Jackson said the bad weather wasn’t going to keep him at home, and said it was actually “apropos” for the situation.

“It’s dreary, and there’s no light coming from the system to bring justice to this young man,” Jackson said.

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Photo by Basil D Soufi
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