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The Million Hoodie March: It’s About a ‘Right-or-Wrong Thing’

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Posted on Mar 22, 2012
AP / John Minchillo

Trayvon Martin’s parents Tracy Martin, left, and Sybrina Fulton, center, join the Million Hoodie March in Union Square in New York on Wednesday.

By Marcia Alesan Dawkins

Thousands of protesters gathered in New York City’s Union Square on Wednesday evening for the Million Hoodie March to demand justice and search for answers in the death of 17-year-old Florida teen Trayvon Martin. Martin was shot in the chest and killed in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26 because he looked “suspicious” to his alleged killer. It turns out that Martin was on his way to a family member’s home. After the killing, Martin’s body was tested for drugs and he was put through a thorough background check. The results yielded only a bag of Skittles and an AriZona Iced Tea. Meanwhile George Zimmerman, the man who admits shooting Martin, did not undergo any such scrutiny. 

In the 26 days since the incident a fuller picture is emerging about Zimmerman. He is reported to have told police that he shot Martin in “self-defense.” Apparently Zimmerman felt he needed to use deadly force against the unarmed Martin because the teen was black. On the recording of Zimmerman’s call to 911 (which he made before pursuing the teen), he is heard using what sounds like a racial epithet and saying, “he’s a black male. … Something’s wrong with him. … These a**holes, they always get away.” What’s more, investigators missed a possible racist remark by Zimmerman as he spoke to police dispatchers just before the killing. To date, Zimmerman has not been charged or arrested in Martin’s shooting.

The failure to charge Zimmerman with any criminal wrongdoing has outraged members of the press as well as the public. For instance, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Lawrence O’Donnell are covering the case extensively for MSNBC and are demanding an investigation into the Sanford Police Department. The Sanford City Commission passed a motion of “no confidence” in its police chief at a meeting Wednesday after the investigation into Martin’s death. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., called for justice by taking to the House floor with an impassioned plea.

Spurred to action by the media and government representatives, activist Daniel Maree took to organizing Wednesday’s Million Hoodie March and spreading the word about the petition, “Prosecute the Killer of Our Son, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin,” signed by 1 million people to demand justice for Martin. 

The march began with a rally at Union Square where Martin’s parents reminded the crowd that their “son was not committing any crimes. Our son is your son. ... It’s not about [a] black-and-white thing; it’s just about a right-and-wrong thing.” Using tactics developed through Occupy Wall Street protests to overcome New York City’s new ban on megaphones, the crowd responded using the human microphone. The crowd chanted “no justice, no peace, no racist police.” And with that the diverse groups of protesters grabbed their bags of Skittles, AriZona Iced Teas and began the Million Hoodie March going south on the streets of Manhattan. 

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Broadcast by independent journalist Tim Pool, it was plain to see that the march itself was rather peaceful, though there were a few confrontations and arrests. Tweets reported that the “#NYPD claim[ed] a package has been found at #UnionSq—cleared everybody including passengers. Terrorism card?”

Despite this interference, the leaderless march continued. And because it was leaderless, the march was very difficult for the NYPD to control. The three crowds diverged and converged several times, and there were moments of running, jumping and evading. Some protesters tore down the barricades surrounding the bull sculpture on Wall Street and climbed on it. But most of the crowd was walking through the fog and talking about how Trayvon Martin’s case is linked to institutional racism. And about how many are seeing the march as “Troy Davis 2.0,” as well as reminders of the tragic cases of Oscar Grant and Wendell Allen. Sometimes protesters shouted at the police and other times they chanted, “Stop stop and frisk!” Or, “Whose streets? Our streets!” Or, “Whose son? Our son!”

Meanwhile, Twitter exploded with poignant descriptions, opinions and photos. One of the most popular photos circulated was of former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm sporting a black hoodie in support. Another popular image was of a group of Howard University law school students donning hoodies with the caption “Am I Suspicious?” And the most compelling photo was of a young black boy holding a sign that said, “Am I Next?” Two of the most popular opinions were “No Apologies” and “White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious!” Each called for every civilian, police officer and elected official to take responsibility for the society we’ve created that allows tragic events like Martin’s shooting to occur, though in very different ways. Soon after, online graffiti created for the march began to emerge and circulate to bring the point home.

In all, the Million Hoodie March was an on-the-ground call for an end and an online call for a new beginning. Protesters marched for an end to institutional racism and an end to injustice in this case and others. Their footsteps were echoed by the digital footprints of online protesters who typed and tweeted for a fresh start and a future in which no one will have to worry about being the next Trayvon Martin.

Click here to hear Dr. Dawkins talk about the Trayvon Martin case and the Million Hoodie March on KPFK’s “Truthdig Radio.”


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By Cliff Carson, March 24, 2012 at 2:18 pm Link to this comment

MouseyTongue, March 23 at 8:55 am

“THIS SO CALLED PRESUMPTION IS AN URBAN MYTH”

MouseyTongue, I am not sure of your statement.  The presumption does in fact exist, and I do agree it is not in the constitution.

But I state that the public has been propagandized to believe that “the victim did something wrong because the police wouldn’t harm someone who is doing nothing wrong”.

And the courts have adopted this presumption also.  How many cases of police, without cause, killing or harming a member of the public ever sufferer the consequence of their action?  Would you say it is under 1%?

I think you will agree the answer is almost never.

I am reminded of the victim who went to a house one night where a group of Policemen were having a party and consuming copious amounts of alcohol.  He randomly went to that house to get directions because he was lost.

He was beaten by over a dozen policemen.  A witness said he started running from the house when the owner of the house knocked him off the steps.  He was pursued by a pack of about a dozen policemen and beaten within an inch of his life.  They left him in the street and went back to their party.  The witness called an ambulance and testified against the police.

The Judge in the trial said no policeman could be prosecuted because the victim couldn’t positively identify which individuals of the mob hit him.

Things like this are fairly common in America.

For things like this I draw a presumption that cops are above the law.  And this is no myth.

He was black.

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By gerard, March 24, 2012 at 12:50 pm Link to this comment

Point Number One:  It’s not THEM versus US—It’s that we need to get together in our common interest as families, neighbors, towns, cities, a democratic nation.

Point Number Two:  We all have an individual responsibility to do whatever we can wherever we are to “promote the general welfare” in order to live together amicably.

Point Number Three:  Because our governments (local, State, Federal) all have more power than any individual, they have more responsibility than any individual to “promote the general (meaning everybody’s) welfare” and help people work together.

Point Number Four:  To the degree those governments fail to “promote the general welfare” and instead shut citizens out of equal rights (regardless of creed, color or class), governments fail.

Point Number Five:  When governments permit and promote suspicion, lack of accurate information, class/racial discrimination, ignorance, secrecy,
injustice, governments fail.

A democratic government does not suspect and surveille its people, does not subject its people to unfair imprisonment or deny its people their Constitutionally promised rights. A democratic government does not promote wars with other countries in order to sell munitions and give young men jobs. A democratic government does not favor rich people over poor people.

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By Ftpos, March 24, 2012 at 10:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What happened to this young man is a tragedy and should have never of happened.
However, profiling George Zimmerman as a “white” male based on his name alone when
he clearly is a man of color to reinforce the argument that “institutional racism” is the
sole cause of this tragedy is inaccurate and misleading. Racism crosses all boundaries
regardless of the hues of color. The author failed to notate this in her article in order to
perpetuate the stereotypes that reinforce “traditional” institutional racism, ie white verses
black, as opposed to presenting this tragedy as a struggle among classes and race
relations among people of color.

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By balkas, March 23, 2012 at 10:39 am Link to this comment

i, too was, made in white race. and if remember correctly i, too, was a racist.
how did i learn [or been conditioned subtly or otherwise] to feel alienated not only from black race but all dark-skinned people and peoples?
well, i probably will never know. i’d just like to say that one can learn w.o. being aware that one is learning.[and especially of dire consequences
resulting from some such learnings for self and others]
and such learning can be extremely perilous for self and others. perhaps, such learnings are acquired at early an age, say, when one is 5 or six y o.

learnings w.o. being aware that one is learning and teaching what one has learned—that’s what is happening. and our [or THEIR] ‘teachers’ have not
revealed this truth to us. 
hey kids, we are all teachers/learners. it’s a myth [propagated by gated communities] that one can separate cause from effect and in this case learning
from teaching.

i decided to say this after dimly recollecting that i used to write such missives to say, NYT; hoping it wld publish them. however, none of my numerous
posts ever appeared in an american medium.
that was about 30 y ago. i then slowly realized american media wld never allow such missives to be published. so i stopped reading MSM or writing to
it ca 20 y ago.
but even some alternate media delete, do no publish, or ban what we say [i said WE—how many, i don’t know]
and i am often attacked for what we say. well, people learn-teach! people cld also learn-teach enlightenment and i am sure one day they will.
if i did not expect it, i’d stop positing and reading any medium! thanks, bozhidarevski b

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By MouseyTongue, March 23, 2012 at 10:35 am Link to this comment

Ironically, the police lack of action on this matter
may flush them down the tubes along with this
supervigilante character… all they had to do was
actually do their real jobs for once… now they are
all in the same sinking boat… and totally without my
sympathies.

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By BrilliantBill, March 23, 2012 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

Interesting how one sentence can be so enlightening. The person who wrote this is described as a communications and media expert. She writes:

“The failure to charge Zimmerman with any criminal wrongdoing has outraged members of the press as well as the public.”

What has outraged members of the press to do with this? Ostensibly, the “press” exists to report the news. When they go home at the end of the day, they’re free to be as outraged as they like. When this outrage enters their profession, they cease to be credible. They become something akin to the so called Fox News propaganda machine.

Like most of us I know almost nothing about this event. Facts seem few and emotions seem to be generating near hysteria. What I do know is this dead child is simply one more victim of this country’s love and lust for handguns. Until we break that addiction, every child is simply unprotected.

How are the children?

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By MouseyTongue, March 23, 2012 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

quote The presumption that those in authority are
always moral and ethical is the foundational flaw
that allows this type behavior to continue unquote
IN FACT THE VERY EXISTENCE OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS
PROVES THAT SUCH A PRESUMPTION DOES NOT, AND NEVER
HAS EXISTED. THIS SO CALLED PRESUMPTION IS AN URBAN
MYTH, a favorite bedtime prayer of the ‘blue haired
republicans’ who are so convinced that they will be
murdered in their sleep if they don’t excuse ‘bad behavior’ by cops that cops gradually have gained a
license to kill.
Unfortunately these things happen, and the worst of
it is that they are excused with flimsy pretext and
half knitted excuses while murderers hide behind the
badge - and ‘we the people’ tolerate it…

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By Cliff Carson, March 23, 2012 at 7:57 am Link to this comment

There is something inherently wrong with a law that allows a lawman, a pseudo lawman ( neighborhood watch) to kill someone on the pretext that they felt threatened.

Take a moment and think about it.

That law presumes that all Police or authorities are good, moral, ethical people.

Daily life proves that to be absolutely wrong.

Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts completely.

All we have to do is recall images of Police atrocities that have occurred and continue to occur.

I can recall an event in my state a few years ago where a person who refused to be a witness against a person the Court wanted to “get”.

The Prosecuted publicly stated after his case failed, because of the refusal of that witness, that he would “see” that the reluctant witness would pay for his refusal.

About two years later, in the middle of the night, a SWAT team entered the reluctant witnesses home using a no-knock entry, riddling the house with bullets, killing the reluctant witness in his bed.

Why the raid?

According to the police, they received an anonymous tip that he had an un-registered gun in the house.

Investigation by the Sheriff’s department found that the raid was conducted per policies and procedures.

There are thousands of stories akin to this in the history of our land.

The presumption that those in authority are always moral and ethical is the foundational flaw that allows this type behavior to continue.

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By Aarky, March 23, 2012 at 5:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It’s a real crime! For those of you who listened to the 911 police tapes, Zimmerman should have been arrested. The second call to 911 came from a woman who was reporting a struggle outside her house. There is the sound of someone calling for help, most probably the young man, then about one second later guns shots. It would certainly indicate that Trayvon was calling for help and then was killed by Zimmerman.
As the ultimate cynic, if this young man had been more ugly and more black, would there have been such an uproar? More cynicism: We can have thousands of people angry over the unjust murder of a young person in the US but we yawn and go back to watching American Idol when we hear about the slaughter of innocents by the US in far away places.

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By gerard, March 22, 2012 at 8:29 pm Link to this comment

Lots of calls coming in in different ways.  If we don’t get together and do something, it won’t be because we didn’t know something needed to be done.
Get together. Stay together. Work together. Play together.

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