Rallying over Zimmerman's acquittal
Protesters gather at the Capitol against not-guilty verdict
Published on 7/16/2013 by the Times Union written by Bryan Fitzgerald
Albany - Young, old, black, white, many with hoodies draped over their heads, a disappointed but determined crowd gathered on the steps of the Capitol Monday morning to join others across the country in condemning the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Trayvon Martin.
While not on the massive scale of some of the post-trial protests from Los Angeles to Times Square, the group of about 60 demonstrators in Albany sang, held an extended moment of silence and spoke passionately about how the not-guilty verdict in the shooting of the unarmed Florida teenager has touched them from more than a thousand miles away.
"I wanted to teach my 12-year-old son how to walk to the store by himself this summer or let him play outside by himself," said Winell Jones, of Albany. Tears streamed across Jones' cheeks as she told the crowd that her son is autistic and that she fears someone may mistake his mannerisms for him being disorderly.
"He asks me if he can just go outside without me, but I just can't do it," the mother said. "I don't feel safe. I feel like someone could take my son away just like (Trayvon Martin). I don't want my son to live in a cage, but I live in fear for my son."
Many in the crowd said they held out hope for a guilty verdict but were not surprised by the acquittal.
"You could see it coming," said Corrie Terry. "It was almost a given that he would be found not guilty." Terry said that laws like the stand-your-ground law, which was the basis for Zimmerman's self-defense claim, need to be eliminated.
"I can understand if Trayvon had a gun," Terry said. "But with this, it just shows that our criminal justice system is broken."
The U.S. Department of Justice is considering whether to file criminal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
Protests sprang up around the country after Saturday night's not-guilty verdict was announced and quickly spread across news and social media networks. Thousands marched across parts of New York City. Demonstrators blocked off a portion of a freeway and streets in Los Angeles.
On Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, "We have a system and we follow the system. I understand the outrage and the feeling that the system failed in this case."
Tom Heckman came to the Capitol rally from Schodack with his wife, Lesley Tabor. The couple held up signs that showed a black face under a hoodie and made a long banner that read, "March for Trayvon. Justice Now."
Like others at Monday's rally, Heckman chided the country's criminal justice system.
"You see the amount of people in jail and what some of them are in for, and then look at who's not going to jail," he said, adding, "Something is wrong with the system."
Albany Councilman Dominick Calsolaro attended the rally and talked about how Martin's death caused more than just the teenager's family to suffer.
"It's another case of a young person killed by a gun," Calsolaro said. "And these laws allow people to take the law into their own hands. ... Everyone suffers. The victim's family, the perpetrator's family, us."