Monday, July 15, 2013
Hundreds of Wichitans joined nationwide protests Monday in the wake of the not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman in the 2012 shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Between 200 and 300 people took part in the Wichita rally at 21st and Hillside. They said they were there in support of the Martin family and to demand that the U.S. Department of Justice file hate crime charges against Zimmerman.
"I don't think justice was served and we need to do something about it," protester Floyd Johnson, Sr., said.
Organizers of the protest said Saturday's acquittal of Zimmerman will encourage more people to take the law into their own hands.
"Essentially, it's allowed vigilantism to be legalized and we don't want that," said Djuan Wash, one of the protest's organizers.
Mary Dean, another organizer, agreed.
"If you feel threatened because somebody doesn't look like you -- that's black or brown -- you can do whatever you want to do," Dean said. "You can shoot and you'll get off."
Dean said she does not believe the Zimmerman case was handled correctly.
"I don't think the prosecuting attorney's office put on a good enough case," she said. "They took out race because they said it wasn't about race."
Wash said the case was about race and he feels the justice system is inherently racist.
"I hate to say it like that, but if you look at all the studies and statistics, they will show you that black and brown people are sentenced more heavily than people that commit similar situated crimes," Wash said.
Other protesters hoped the case can bring about positive change.
"Hopefully something will be changed," Johnson said. "All races of people can learn to love one another and that's what it's all about."