Nearly 100 people marched down Martin Luther King Jr. Way South Wednesday evening as part of the Greater Mount Baker Baptist Church’s prayer vigil and protest over the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case.
The vigil was hosted by the United Black Christian Clergy of Washington State, a group of religious leaders, in Seattle. It was followed by a march to the Martin Luther King Memorial Park at the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. Way South and South Massachusetts Street. The church had hosted another prayer vigil earlier in the day.
Kenneth Ransfer, pastor of the church, said the verdict delivered Saturday night was “a travesty of justice.”
“The state of Florida sent a message that if you’re black, young and walking, you can be confronted, end up dead, and the perpetrator could get away with it,” Ransfer said. “We’re not trying to threaten or challenge anyone. We want to respect and reflect for the Martin family.”
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Marchers chanted a combination of chants including “Hey-hey, ho-ho the new Jim Crow has got to go” and “Same story every time, being black is not a crime” as they marched toward the park.
Between 35 and 40 Seattle police officers were on the scene on bikes and motorcycles helping protesters have a clear path. Ransfer said the department had been helpful and cooperative during the three days they worked to coordinate the protest.
The UBCC has six position statements concerning the Trayvon Martin case. One urges the Department of Justice to investigate whether civil-rights violations occurred against Martin. Another calls on local and state lawmakers to encourage the DOJ to conduct such an investigation. Yet another calls for revision of “Stand Your Ground” laws.
Pastor Lawrence R. Willis, president of United Black Christian Clergy in Washington State, said churches have always been a center for gathering.
“The church has been a center point for any movement or attack on community,” he said. “The church has always been the backbone of communities when it comes to social justice and equality.”
Sade Britt, 19, a sophomore at the University of Washington spoke during the rally in the park, telling attendees about her own time on campus and how peers often say racism doesn’t exist anymore. She said it’s important for the country to be honest with itself about racism.
“There are plenty of Trayvons that happen all of the time,” Britt said. “I just hope some action comes from all of this. It’s not fair we have to be afraid for our family members.”
The vigil and rally followed a Sunday demonstration in which a few hundred people
in Westlake Park chanting: “We are all Trayvon,” and “No Justice, No Peace” protested the verdict in the Travyon Martin slaying
Marissa Evans 206-464-3701