Fort Worth residents rally in response to Zimmerman verdict

Posted Saturday, Jul. 20, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Moments after President Barack Obama addressed the nation regarding the George Zimmerman acquittal, Southern Christian Leadership Conference Tarrant County President Kyev Tatum said some of the attitudes in institutions built to protect people are producing terrible outcomes for the people they were built to protect.

“If one fish bellies up in the lake, you look at the fish,” Tatum said. “If 83 percent of the fish in the lake go belly up, you look at the lake.”

Zimmerman was acquitted July 13 of a murder charge in the shooting death of 16-year-old Trayvon Martin, a black teenager wearing a hoodie who was walking down the street in Zimmerman’s neighborhood.

The 3 p.m. rally and a later one at 7 p.m. Friday in downtown Fort Worth were precursors for other rallies scheduled for today nationwide. Rallies in Dallas and in dozens of other cities are scheduled for today to push for federal civil rights charges to be brought against Zimmerman.

At the earlier Fort Worth rally, Jireh Davis, 16, an Arlington Martin High School student, said she faced her own fears before deciding to participate. Anything could have happened, Davis said.

But the rally was peaceful, and Davis said she was happy that she attended.

“Every little thing we do is a step toward freedom,” Davis said. “I’m happy that people were strong enough to come out and support this cause.”

Fort Worth Police Chief Jeffrey Halstead, who was at the rally but did not address the crowd, said in an interview that he wanted to support building better relationships between minority communities and the police.

Obama gave people an understanding of what all African-American men go through when they walk onto an elevator and see other people get scared, said Johnny Muhammad, Dunbar High School site director for Umoja, a youth mentoring organization.

Muhammad said he used the Zimmerman verdict as an opportunity to explain to his son how he should react when approached by police. You keep your hands in plain sight where the officer can see them, answer yes sir and no sir, turn off the radio, and do not make any sudden moves or reach for your cellphone, Muhammad said.

“We have to teach our children how to walk now,” Muhammad said. “Other people don’t have to do that.”

Mark Carter, one of the founders of the Stop the Violence, Walk of Praise movement, said leaders in the African-American community have neglected to bridge the gap with the children in the African-American community. Pastor Ivy Haynes, another Stop the Violence official, said parents are in denial.

Parents should have been downtown along with their children, Haynes said.

“The more visible we are the bigger our statement,” Haynes said. “Our politicians will not react until they have to.”

Blake Lindsey, a 14-year-old Everman High School student, said it is now time for politicians and bureaucrats to react.

“I hope the Department of Justice does bring charges,” Lindsey said. “I think if they do there might be a different outcome.”

Frederick Haynes III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church, is one of several speakers scheduled to speak at today’s rally. “Even though the trial of George Zimmerman has come to a conclusion that for many of us is unsatisfactory and represents a travesty of justice, the trial of America is just beginning,” Haynes said earlier this week.

Today’s rally will be at 11 a.m. at Dallas City Hall Plaza. There will also be a “Justice for Trayvon” vigil at 11:30 a.m. at the JFK Memorial, 646 Main St.

This report contains material from the Dallas Morning News. Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752 Twitter: @mitchmitchel3

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