Community rallies for Trayvon

? Old and young, male and female, white and black – all were present in the Burlington community’s remembrance for the death of a 17-year-old boy. More than 200 people gathered at City Hall March 27 to rally for Trayvon Martin, who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Florida last month. Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, said the act was in self-defense and has not been formally charged for any crime, according to ABC News. More than a dozen protestors, leaders of the community and appointed officials spoke at the “We are Trayvon Martin” rally in Burlington. Burlington High School graduate Dante Seguino said he, Trayvon Martin and all black youths leave the house every day with a set of judgments cast upon them. “When I walk down the street with headphones on, I know people are not going to assume I am listening to folk music,” Seguino said. “Race amplifies the significance of the smallest decisions.” Burlington Police Chief Michael Schirling addressed his commitment to protect local communities and maintain public trust. “My vision for law enforcement in Burlington is simple: continue to build partnerships, foster dialogue and trust, and help law enforcement be seen as a leader in protecting our communities from bias,” Schirling said. Assistant professor of geography Rashad Shabazz spoke about how Martin’s death illustrates the danger black men face in public space.  “Trayvon was hunted by a man who did not see him as a person, but as threat,” Shabazz said. “Not as a kid getting candy and tea, but as a suspicious person up to no good.” Mayor-elect Miro Weinberger reminded the public about the continuing presence and danger of racism in America. “As a community here in Burlington that is becoming increasingly diverse, it is crucial for us to acknowledge the existence of racism and work against it in all its forms,” Weinberger said. The Burlington community will move these conversations about racism forward and take the necessary steps to embrace diversity and minimize bias, he said. “[We] will succeed in becoming a community that is strengthened by its growing diversity, not divided by it,” Weinberger said. First-year Melissa Amaya said she believed that if Trayvon Martin had been white, something like this never would have happened. “And if it did, the person [who killed him] would have been incarcerated immediately,” Amaya said. Mayor Bob Kiss asked for a moment of silence for Martin, and a commitment to improve the community and the world. “It is very clear that we have an objective and a purpose to fight racism,” Kiss said. “I am convinced that here in Vermont we can make a better world.” Sophomore Kristin Nelson said she looks forward to a time when all races will be treated equally. “I hope one day the conversation will end, when it will get to a point when this conversation doesn’t even exist,” Nelson said. Students can sign a petition in support of the prosecution of George Zimmerman at the following website: http://www.change.org/petitions/prosecute-the-killer-of-our-son-17-year-old-trayvon-martin