Updated Thu, Mar 29, 2012 10:17 am
It was almost 80 degrees outside, but that didn't stop about 200 Ohio University students, professors and Athens community members from wearing hoods on College Green Wednesday evening to "demand justice" for Trayvon Martin.
Martin, a black Florida teenager was shot dead Feb. 26 during a confrontation with neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman. Zimmerman said he shot the unarmed teenager in self defense and has not been arrested or charged for the shooting.
Several individuals spoke to the diverse group of hooded attendees, including the event organizers and a local pastor.
"A few of the speakers cried, just talked about really emotional stories pertaining to the Trayvon Martin case but really something important to them. It was, it was powerful and a very emotional atmosphere," said Alan Grigsby. Grigsby was one of four students who organized the event.
The hooded supporters concluded the rally with a march around campus. They chanted slogans like "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now."
"I think people were really angry and in a lot of ways frusterated. You could sense that," said event co-organizer Molly Yanity. "I also think that people are pleased to know that there are people like them who are also angry and want to join together and do something."
Today's rally in Athens wasn't a unique sign of support for the Martin family. In recent weeks, hooded rallys have popped up in cities all over the county.
"Why do it at OU? Because it affects all of us. It's not a Florida issue, it's not a deep South issue, it's something that affects everyone," Yanity said.
Other event organizers agree.
"It can happen anywhere. Just because it was in Florida, it can happen in Athens, OH. It can happen in Cleveland, OH. It can happen in New York," said Sarah Williams, a senior student at OU. "You know, just because it happened in Florida doesn't mean it's an isolated incident."
Williams said the group decided to plan the rally to express outrage with the way the Martin case was handled.
"It was just a lot of anger and just trying to figure like what can we do. What is the solution? I'm hurt and I'm angry about this. This child had to die for nothing," she said.
Williams said she and others hope to organize future events to "demand justice" for the Florida teen.