NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A march took place Wednesday evening in Manhattan calling for justice in the case of an unarmed black teenager, who was shot to death by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida.
The Justice Department and state prosecutors are investigating the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, who was killed last month while returning to a gated community in the town Sanford after buying candy at a convenience store.
“This is not a black and white thing – this is about a right or wrong thing,” the victim’s mother, Sabryna Fulton, said at the Union Square rally.
“These people are out here because they know that this could be their brother, it could’ve been their father,” Brianna Seagraves told CBS 2′s Derricke Dennis.
Martin, a high school junior, was unarmed and wearing a hoodie at the time. Wednesday’s demonstration was dubbed the “Million Hoodie March.” Many participants wore hooded sweatshirts for the march, which was billed as a demonstration to put an end to racial profiling, 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr reported.
Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, said he felt honored that New York City would hold a march for his son.
“We ask that we get justice for our son,” Martin told CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey.
George Zimmerman, a 26-year-old neighborhood watch captain, claims he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman has not been charged. The victim’s family believes Martin was “murdered” because of his race.
“Just by him having on a hoodie, being a black teenager,” Tracy Martin said.
Those at the rally, which included Occupy Wall Street protesters, said they were standing against stereotypes of black men who wear hooded sweatshirts.
“The stereotype is that they’re dangerous, that they’re up to no good and that they’re generally a bad person,” Eva Haldane said.
Many of the protesters said they couldn’t understand why Zimmerman hasn’t been arrested.
1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr reports
Martin was walking to his Sanford home late last month when he ran into Zimmerman, who called 911 to report a suspicious person.
Zimmerman: He’s got his hand in his waistband and he’s a black male.
Dispatcher: Are you following him?
Dispatcher: OK, we don’t need you to do that.
Police said he followed the teen anyway. Neighbors reported hearing screams, a cry for help, then a gunshot, Hennessey reported.
“My son was screaming for his life,” Tracy Martin said.
The controversial killing is shining a spotlight on Florida’s stand your ground law, which gives the benefit of the doubt to anyone claiming self defense – no matter where.
“You can’t claim self defense if you’re the aggressor,” the victim’s father said.
Earlier in the week, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division opened a civil rights probe into the shooting, and the Seminole County State Attorney in Florida has said a grand jury will meet April 10 to consider evidence in the case
Authorities initially said there wasn’t any evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s claim of self defense, but on Monday, Martin’s friend said she was on the phone with him the night of the shooting, and that Zimmerman was clearly the aggressor.
Zimmerman is now reportedly in hiding.