The Reverend Al Sharpton's National Action Network organized 100 "Justice for Trayvon" vigils across the country today. In New York City, Sharpton is at One Police Plaza with Trayvon Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton, to urge the federal government to investigate civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. And the event has attracted a huge crowd, including a number of politicians, as well as Jay Z and Beyonce.
In February 2012, Zimmerman fatally shot 17-year-old Trayvon, who was unarmed, in a Florida town—he was acquitted of murder and manslaughter charges last week, setting off a number of protests. Yesterday, President Obama talked about the verdict—and race—at length, explaining why so many are upset by the verdict. "You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. It’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away... There are very few African American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me."
At the National Action Network Headquarters before the vigil, Sharpton said, "We've got to change laws so this never happens again." And Fulton told the audience, "Sometimes I think about what Trayvon felt that night. He was walking home minding his business...Trayvon was no burglar. He had every right to be in that community." She added, "My son died without even knowing who his killer was... George Zimmerman started the fight, and George Zimmerman ended the fight."