Three days after a Florida jury found neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder in the Trayvon Martin case, the Charleston chapter of the NAACP is calling for nonviolent, continued legal action to bring “justice for Trayvon.”
“We have to go beyond just talking about the fact that we have a race problem,” Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott said.
She compared the Martin case to high-profile cases of murdered black men, including Emmett Till, a 14-year-old who was killed in 1955 in Mississippi, and civil rights leader Medgar Evars, murdered eight years later in the same state.
Scott said the Martin case “reminds us that the more things change, the more they remain the same, and that for some, a black life has little or no value to some in our justice system.”
Scott said the local NAACP chapter is supporting the national organization’s efforts to investigate a possible civil suit against Zimmerman.
She also called on local law enforcement officers to stop racial profiling, a contested issue in the Zimmerman trial.
“We call upon people of goodwill everywhere to denounce racial profiling within law enforcement in the communities throughout our United States and abandon the lopsided arrest rates of blacks and Latinos for minor offenses that are often overlooked in communities of the affluent,” Scott said.
About 15 people attended the NAACP event Tuesday, far fewer than the crowd of about 300 who rallied in Marion Square Monday night during a vigil for Martin.
Vernelle Dickerson, a Huger resident who attended the press conference Tuesday, said the Florida case hits close to home.
“I have a grandson who is 11 years old. Trayvon was six years older than my grandson,” Dickerson said. “To me, it was all a racial thing. (Zimmerman) saw this young, black boy with a hood and it was raining. I have hoods that I wear. If I’m out in the rain, I put it on my head. That’s why they sell them. He was profiling him.”
Scott said after the press conference that crimes committed by blacks against blacks are equally important to the NAACP, but the Martin case highlight problems plaguing the justice system.
“Unless you walk in our shoes, it’s hard to understand,” she said.
Demetrii Wright, who lives on the Charleston peninsula and attended the NAACP event Tuesday, said about the case, “It hurts. You know that boy was just walking home.”
Reach Lauren Sausser at 937-5598.