Revolution #265, April 8, 2012

March 31: Thousands in Sanford, Florida Demand "Justice for Trayvon"

We received the following observations from a reader:

We are reporting to you live and on the ground in Sanford, Florida. On Saturday, March 31, thousands of people marched through one of the oldest Black neighborhoods in Florida. Its original name was Goldsboro, and it was incorporated in 1891, but in 1910 powerful leaders in the white community along with the Mayor of Sanford at the time, Forest Lake, dissolved (stole) Goldsboro’s city charter and incorporated it into Sanford. The people of Goldsboro have a long history of struggle similar to Rosewood, Florida.

The march was organized by NAACP with chartered buses coming from all over Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, and Atlanta, as well as many people who drove to be a part of the march and rally. We even met a man who flew from Jamaica with his family to be part of the protest. We asked him how big of a story this was in Jamaica—he said it was big in Jamaica and all over the world.

The march started at Crooms Academy for Information and Technology, now a charter school but back in the day, it was an all-Black high school during segregation. The march went from there to the Sanford police department. The police station is located at the edge of the community, and one person told us they wanted the police station in the community because it was the only way the community could get streetlights!

When we got to Crooms, we prominently displayed two enlargements of the front page of Revolution #264, “A Modern American Lynching,” and it attracted many people out of the crowd to want to buy Revolution and sign up on our e-sub list. As we stepped off, you could see a sea of people with a combination of NAACP signs, which had a beautiful picture of Trayvon and said “Justice for Trayvon,” along with home-made signs. The overwhelming sentiment of the home-made signs was “Arrest Zimmerman” and “I am Trayvon.” Another one said, “Trayvon today, Who tomorrow?” Many people carried the “weapon” of Skittles or pinned bags to their shirts along with Arizona iced tea. The crowd was made up of people from all walks of life—students, educators, professionals, families with small children, and the basic masses. One woman told us that she brought her 17-year-old grandson to the demonstration because he needed to be toughed up and know what it is like in the real world and that he is too naïve. Although the crowd was overwhelming Black, there were more white people than we had seen in previous protests; however, this remains to be a real problem that needs to be transformed! Chants rang through the streets, “No Justice, No Peace,” “Shot in the chest, We want an arrest.” And when we tweaked a chant from “Arrest Zimmerman Now!” to “Arrest Zimmerman, and the Police!” people took it up with enthusiasm and laughter. Another chant we initiated that was well liked was “Trayvon did not have to die, we all know the reason why…The whole system is guilty…The Whole System is Guilty.” Along the way people were hanging out in front of their houses with many joining the march as it passed by. One man we passed had a booming sound system loudly playing Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come,” and all these people in the march passing by were singing it loudly!

When we arrived at the Sanford police department, a stage was set up on the station’s property. This was pretty interesting—we have seen people protest at police stations before, but have never seen the police allow the whole rally to set up on their property. A huge and beautiful picture of Trayvon with Justice for Trayvon across the top of the picture was the backdrop to the stage. The speakers included Ben Jealous, national president of the NAACP; Al Sharpton; and Jesse Jackson. Al Sharpton talked about “American paradox that we can put a black man in the White House but we can’t walk a black child through a gated area in Sanford, Florida.” This is a false premise because Obama’s presidency has never been about uprooting the oppression of Black people, and if it was he would not have been allowed to be the president. Instead, Obama is commander-in-chief of a system and a country that oppresses people and whole nations here and around the world.

As we stood in the middle of the street with our enlargement of the front cover of Revolution and selling many copies of Revolution newspaper, hundreds of people approached taking pictures with the cover or alone and said they were going to post it on Facebook so many others could see it.

We showed a number of people the point from Li Onesto’s article, “A Modern American Lynching,” the sub-section on “The Ordinariness of the Oppression of Black People in the USA”: “It is good that people are demanding JUSTICE. And at the same time, we need to be clear on what kind of system is responsible for creating people like George Zimmerman, what kind of system is behind all the circumstances surrounding and leading up to the murder of Trayvon Martin.

“We need to ask: What is the system that created the whole situation surrounding the murder of Trayvon Martin—and then the whole way the vigilante murderer has been allowed to go free?...”

A lot of people really agreed with this and said that it captured what they were thinking and had been trying to tell others. We have to understand that Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are not telling the masses this in their speeches because while they are against many of the effects of the capitalist system, they are not against the capitalism system itself.

A lot of people that got the paper knew about the Emmett Till case and one woman commented on how an arrest was made quicker after Emmett Till’s murder—it has been more than a month and the murderer of Trayvon Martin is still free! But I thought for a moment, what does it mean that someone is looking to 1955 as a time when there was more justice for Black people—and said that to her. And I also brought up the ugly irony that Bob Avakian talks about in the video clip from the Revolution Talk—the fact that Till’s killers were acquitted and later bragged about the murder in a magazine interview.

At this point in the case, the police chief of Sanford, Bill Lee, has been forced to step aside “temporarily” until things cool down. The governor has appointed a special prosecutor, Angela Corey, to investigate the case and make a decision if they will arrest and charge George Zimmerman, and if there is no arrest by April 10 she will convene a grand jury. Sharpton is now calling for an “occupy with tents” on City Hall of Sanford starting Easter weekend if Zimmerman has not been arrested.

Because Trayvon Martin’s murder has struck such a deep chord with especially Black people and many others, there is a real sense of determination to step up the fight for justice for Trayvon and the countless others his death has come to represent.

We are off to Miami to another protest on Sunday—the first large protest in Trayvon's home town. Trayvon lived and went to high school in Miami and was visiting his father when he was murdered. In his honor, 34 high schools will walk out for Trayvon.

Fight the power, and transform the people, for revolution!

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