Justice For Trayvon Coalition of Tampa launches ongoing campaign

07/18/13 Janelle Irwin
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More than 40 community activists vetted ideas Wednesday night in East Tampa on how to keep the fight for justice alive in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. The coalition of activist groups has planned three events already. One organizer with the Justice For Trayvon Coalition of Tampa, Connie Burton, said the group can feed off of each other’s talents to do it.

"We don't want to lose the momentum. Since we say 'We are Trayvon Martin,' we understand it is bigger than just the loss of that one precious life because we are dealing with profound social injustices. As I see all these wonderful people here tonight, I think about all their skills, their abilities, and we are going to have breakout groups so people can have specific tasks they're working on as we chop this mountain of injustice down."

Combining individual life experiences and professional skills, the group ranging from young children to senior citizens gave input on how to improve events already scheduled.

Friday, leaders from the Tampa Dream Defenders are planning a rally and march in front of the U.S. attorney’s office in downtown Tampa at 3:30 p.m.

Then on Monday, the group is asking supporters to call President Barack Obama’s office and demand a Department of Justice suit be filed against George Zimmerman. Fahla Ali is the mother of a teenage son who was shot in crossfire in Baltimore. Now she is fired up for justice for other families. Ali suggested bombarding authorities with phone calls and emails asking that George Zimmerman’s gun permit be revoked.

"He is emotionally unstable and legally he's had two run-in's with the law. His gun permit should be disqualified."

A third event is scheduled for Tuesday and is intended to spread the message of justice beyond the Trayvon Martin case. Supporters will rally in front of the police substation on 22nd Street in East Tampa at 7:00 p.m. to also protest the Tampa Police shooting of teen, Javon Neal last summer. But the group is trying to make its message as strong as possible by getting input from the community. Faith Felder, an internal medicine physician, said African-American communities should use their financial muscle both to boycott unsympathetic companies and to raise funds.

"Talk is cheap and I just feel that we need to come together. I read somewhere that by 2015 African Americans will have a $1.1 trillion spending power. And I'm like 'That is a whole lot of money!'. What are we doing with that? What are we doing with those resources? We really need to channel those dollars back in to our community, channel those dollars into our school system, our businesses. We need to help support each other."

Other groups are in the early stages of planning a march on Washington in August in honor of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech and also raise awareness for the Trayvon Martin justice campaign. Linda Paulk is a Representative for Ice Cream Magazine. She said people with the magazine are launching a mail in campaign to the Department of Justice in that features a hand drawn portrait of Trayvon Martin in a hoodie.

"This petition goes straight to the Department of Justice. We want their address of the person who fills out the card. We have five cards in each envelope and it's a petition. We want the picture to flood their minds. We want them to dream about it at night. Pictures kind of stick with you a little bit longer than words do. Actions and pictures speak a lot."

The group will meet again to come up with more plans on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Open Café in East Tampa.

Other actions are planned by other groups:

Activists will rally in downtown St. Pete’s Vinoy Park Friday at 6 p.m..

A group called PUSH – Persist Until Something Happens – will protest in front of the Sam Gibbons Federal Courthouse in downtown Tampa as part of a national day of action on Saturday at noon.

There is also a march Saturday at 10:00 a.m. in St. Petersburg from the Poynter Institute to Vinoy Park.

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