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Tears for Trayvon and Terrance as ralliers in Minneapolis call for justice

Speakers at the rally called for an end to racism and police harassment, and justice in the name of Trayvon Martin and Terrance Franklin.

Fourteen-year-old Abryana Cohen started crying softly when she told me her age and I commented that she’s around the same age as Trayvon Martin, who was killed by George Zimmerman last February and whose memory was paid tribute to Monday evening at a protest in the People’s Park outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis.

“I’ve got four little brothers, and I don’t want this to happen to them,” said Abryana, sitting with her mother, Lashonda, as speakers screamed for justice in the wake of Zimmerman’s acquittal  on Saturday.

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Two or three thousand people filled the square for the “Hoodies Up!” protest – so-called for Martin’s vilified choice of clothing the night of his shooting and organized by MN Neighborhoods Organizing For Change – and then marched through the streets of downtown Minneapolis chanting “No justice, no peace!”

A sign draped over the top of the government center read “Prisons = Slavery,” as little African-American boys holding signs festooned with photos of Martin and “This is going to be me next” walked alongside little African-American girls holding signs that read, “End racial profiling now.”

Speakers at the rally called for an end to racism and police harassment, and justice in the name of Martin and Terrance Franklin, the young Minneapolis man who was killed by a SWAT team in the basement of an Uptown home after a chase last spring.

On the minds of all concerned was the future of how we get along:

Branden Moss
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Branden Moss, Minneapolis. “It doesn’t feel right that African-American teenagers can be murdered, without any consequences. It’s really different in Florida, because the law there says that someone can provoke you and you can kill them in self-defense, and that’s not right.”

Edwards family
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Regina Cuellar, Asa Edwards, Kaos Edwards. “If this was a small white boy walking through a predominantly black neighborhood and it was a black man who shot him, I think it would’ve been a whole different verdict,” said Asa. “We’re here to stand for him, because we have a son right here who is wearing a hoodie, and he is Trayvon Martin. We had a son in Trayvon, and someone took him from us, and all we got is a ‘not guilty’ verdict and George Zimmerman is free to go. I mean, if that was our son, who would stand for us? We want to stand for something. We want to stand for him.”

Sarah Northrup, Mindy Mattson, Curtiss DeYoung
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Sarah Northrup, St. Paul, Mindy Mattson, Shoreview, and Curtiss DeYoung, Minneapolis. “I think this kind of crime affects all of us,” said DeYoung, a professor who teaches reconciliation studies at Bethel University. “This is about Trayvon, but it’s about a much bigger issue in our society, which is the ability to talk about race and how to talk about it and how it affects people.”

“My liberation is tied up with people who are being discriminated against,” said Northrup, “and it’s a direct result of institutionalized racism, and it’s not just one instance, this is happening all over America and it’s a systemic issue that is not being addressed and is just starting to come to light right now, and it’s a time to mobilize and live together.”

David Pierre
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

David Pierre, Minneapolis. “The legal system made it look like homicide is legal. Homicide has just been legalized in America, that’s what it feels like. I’m just being honest.”

Abryana and Lashonda Cohen
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Abryana and Lashonda Cohen, Minneapolis. “It’s like Trayvon’s life was just worth nothing,” said Lashonda. “Racial profiling and stuff like that, it seems like it’s never gonna end. When I go to the store, the security guards always watch me like they don’t watch other people, and it gets old.”

“It was kind of disappointing that Zimmerman wasn’t found guilty, because I have four little brothers and I wouldn’t want that to happen to any of them,” said Abryana. “Like, how would it feel to lose one of my brothers? That’s the position I put myself in. It just brought me to tears, the case of it, and it’s kind of sad that we get no justice whatsoever.”

Laris Garski, Cicely Kaul and Cameron Snyder
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Larisa Garski, Shoreview, Cicely Kaul, Afton, and Cameron Snyder, St. Paul. “We’re cousins,” said Kaul. “It’s important for us to be here today because we think that an injustice has been done. We’ve been following the case the whole time and we just feel like it’s something we need to stand up for because Stand Your Ground is a horrible law and we’re a family so we decided to come out here as a family and protest.”

Robert and Tamara Lyles
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Robert and Tamara Lyles, Minneapolis. “I think Trayvon was killed for the color of his skin, and I think justice needs to be served and George Zimmerman needs to be found guilty of something. Hopefully we can get some kind of civil suit going to prosecute him with something.”

Jack Stoltz and Peter Olson
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Jack Stoltz, Bloomington, and Peter Olson, Bloomington. “I just have slowly begun to see the massive amount of racism that’s present in America, and this case really shows it, and the verdict shows how the legal system is tilted to the whites,” said Stoltz.

“It’s probably happened before,” said Olson, “but this is the first trial I’ve ever paid attention to, and I thought it was strange that George Zimmerman was on trial, but the only person they ever seemed to talk about was Trayvon Martin. It just seems weird that the person who was murdered was the one that was on trial.”

Kristina Gronquist
MinnPost photo by Jim Walsh

Kristina Gronquist, Minneapolis. “I’m running for City Council, the 3rd Ward, endorsed by the Green Party, and I knew Terrance Franklin personally. He was a good friend of my daughter’s, he went to Marcy Open School, he grew up in my neighborhood. I’ve been strong in this campaign for Terrance since the beginning, because it’s a totally unacceptable killing. The police let the situation escalate to the point where they needed to put a SWAT team in the basement of a house? I believe it was an execution, and we need answers.”

James Holyfield
Photo for Minnpost by Gretchen Seichrist

“My name is James Holyfield from the planet, I’m a natural human being. This is cold-blooded, because everybody on the jury could hear the tape. The dispatcher is telling him, ‘Back off. Slow down. We’re going to meet you over there, don’t follow him.’ How can you hear that tape and not find him guilty? The kid was a child, and he didn’t have a weapon, so there’s no need for him to follow him. But he was the lone gangster. He was angry. He was an angry assassin, looking for somebody to kill.”

Jesse Phenow, Caden Sager, Josh Phenow
Photo for Minnpost by Gretchen Seichrist

Jesse Phenow, Richfield, Caden Sager, Minnetonka, and Josh Phenow, Richfield. “I wanted to show support for Trayvon and his family,” said Jesse, “and make an act of denying and challenging my privilege as a white male; someone who benefits from the system in a variety of different ways.”

“What happened to Trayvon Martin was a damn shame, and we need to make some changes,” said Sager.

“I came here today to be in solidarity with young black males my age that are often targeted off of looks and skin,” said Josh. “I walk the streets and I don’t have to think twice about someone finding me suspicious or a police officer stopping me.”