Sunday, July 21, 2013

300 Clevelanders rally for Trayvon Martin as part of Rev Al Sharpton and NAN's 100 Cities Vigil and Rally for "Justice for Trayvon," groups join Sharpton in calling for Florida boycott, federal Civil Rights charges against Zimmerman, Rev. Dr. Otis Moss Jr. is keynote speaker at rally, rally is organized by Greater Cleveland NAN President Marcia McCoy

Protesters in Cleveland, Ohio rally for justice for slain Black teen Trayvon Martin
Community activists from across the country rally
for justice for Trayvon Martin

By CD Newton,      General Assignment Reporter (

Reach Cleveland Urban News.Com by phone at 216-659-0473 and by email at Reach CD Newton

CLEVELAND, Ohio-“No Justice, No Peace!” That familiar chant rose in crescendo in the courtyard of the Carl B. Stokes U.S. District Courthouse in Cleveland, Oh. on Saturday at noon as Civil Rights leaders, Black clergy , community activists and a host of others gathered as part of a 100 cities rally and vigil for "Justice for Trayvon Martin," a nationwide event sponsored by the Rev Al Sharpton (pictured), his National Action Network (NAN), and Sharpton's local chapter group. 

The chants loomed large as a back drop for some 300 spirited people from all walks of life. The  local architect of this call to action event was Marcia McCoy (pictured), the president of Greater Cleveland NAN.   

"We are pushing a national boycott in Florida and for federal Civil Rights charges against George Zimmerman," McCoy told Cleveland Urban News.Com. 

Cleveland stood up and was counted among 100 cities in the vigil and rally for justice for Martin. The unarmed 17-year old teenager was shot and killed by volunteer neighborhood watchman George Zimmerman in February 2012. 

A backlash to Mr. Zimmerman’s acquittal last weekend by an all White jury has been like a bad knee jerk reaction felt across the nation. The familiar ache of denied justice and a sense of devaluation resonated deeply among members of the Black community.

The Rev. Dr Otis Moss Jr. (pictured), a giant in the Civil Rights crusade, was an imminent speaker at the rally. It was noted at the rally that Moss, a retired long time senior pastor of Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland, was inducted into the Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame. 

The sage reverend, who marched with the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., shared his very personal story of racial profiling and the crowd hung on his every word. The throngs were captivated by his elderly statesman manner. He left the audience with a rousing message for positive change saying that with “one pen, one book, and one ballot we can make a positive change and that's how we remember Trayvon Martin."

Surprisingly only a few of the local media were present for such a significant event.  Furthermore strangely was that many elected officials  were absent from the forum, prompting some community activists to ask if "they care about the unrest and current anxiety in the urban community they represent?"

Still,  many Civil Rights groups, including the Cleveland NAACP and its president the Rev Hilton Smith (pictured), who also spoke at the rally, were represented and stood united with the local chapter of  NAN. Other groups include the Carl Stokes Brigade, the Cleveland Chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Black on Black Crime Inc, Delta Sigma Theta, the Cleveland Chapter of the New Black Panther Party, Revolution Books, Peace in the Hood, One Hundred Black Women, and Imperial Women. 

Ken Lanci (pictured), a  successful White businessman  and a candidate this year for Cleveland mayor, made an impassioned plea for justice to the Black community. 

“Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream is unfulfilled when so few aren't at the table to take advantage of opportunities," said Lanci. "How is it that 50 years later after King’s great speech we stand here? By the grace of god this has to end.”

Many that spoke said that the Stand your Ground law in Florida that Zimmerman's lawyers used to manipulate a jury verdict in his favor, and similar laws in other states, across the country must be repealed.

Before the event concluded some “salt of the earth” ordinary-type people took to the microphone to express their feelings on the verdict and the tragedy. From a well-spoken 17 year old young lady to a seasoned grandmother, all expressed their current dismay with the legal system and the fact that the lives of young Black males are so easily disposable.

The rally ended peacefully with its attendees saying they felt a renewed sense of unity, focus, and encouragement.