USF students stand in solidarity with the Trayvon Martin family and rally against racism

04/05/12 Liz McKibbon
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Public outcry continues as a result of the shooting of Trayvon Martin earlier this year. Yesterday, a group of USF students rallied together in solidarity with the family. They focused on broader issues of race, still prevalent in American society.

Twelve students gathered on the USF Martin Luther King Plaza, on the 44th anniversary of his assassination. The students held signs reading, “Justice for Trayvon” and “I am Trayvon.” Students were from a variety of backgrounds. Sol Marquez is a member of Students Working for Equal Rights, whose parents emigrated from Mexico before she was born.

”You know, people are asking, why is it that Trayvon Martin is such a big story? Well maybe it’s because the issues surrounding Trayvon Martin are more racist than we have ever heard before.”

Andrew Stapleton is a member of the Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS, the group who organized the rally. SDS has also organized events concerning tuition increases, drawing hundreds of student participants. Stapleton says he attributes lower attendance at this event to the tension that surrounds racism. He blames law enforcement for the complications in the Martin case.

”What I would like to see happen, would have been basically, the procedure that would have been followed in any standard case. Zimmerman should have been tested for drugs and alcohol. Trayvon Martin should not have been identified as some John Doe, when he had a cell phone on him that said his mother’s name, who he was, everything like that. And then why was his body tested for drugs and alcohol, but not Zimmerman. And then why aren’t we asking questions like the fact that Zimmerman’s father is a retired Supreme Court justice. That’s a very important question that no one is asking.”

Matt Hastings is another member of SDS. He also attributes blame to the police, but says they have they opportunity to correct it.

“They’ve spoken volumes about what their place in society is. It’s to protect those who have the power. Trayvon Martin had zero power. He was a black child. In our society that means very little. The police have the power to stop this. The government has the power to stop this.”

Hastings says resolving the Martin case is only a small step in solving the overall battle of racism.

”We hope that the murderer, the vigilante murderer, is brought to justice, as quickly as possible. But even that is not enough. That won’t bring Trayvon back. His mother and father will never see him again. They only have pictures to remember him by. But we will remember him, by continuing this fight, no matter where we have to go.”

The case of Trayvon Martin was the primary focus of the event, but other cases of race were also brought up. The death of a Muslim woman in California, was brought up by a couple of the six or seven speakers.

”Racism in our society is a dark and twisted menace that is run wildly in our culture and institutions. Racist attacks have extended far beyond the black community these days. Shortly after Trayvon was murdered, so to was Shaima Alawadi in her own home. Left to bleed to death with a racist note that said, “go back home, you terrorist.”

Hastings says the public outcry will not stop until something is done to solve the underlying issues.

”Racism gains when we remain silent. It grows when we turn the other cheek. We need to stand back against racism in all forms. Justice for Trayvon. Justice for Shaima.”

No arrests have been made in either the Trayvon Martin or Shaima Alawadi cases.

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