MINNEAPOLIS - Five thousand people, most wearing hooded sweatshirts, attended a rally and march at the University of Minnesota Thursday evening gathering in support of slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
"I expected it to be myself here today and maybe about 30 of my friends, and then overnight it just blew up," said Jenny Belsito, a former U of M student and mother who sent the Facebook note that started the movement in Minneapolis. The event was organized entirely through Facebook.
Belsito told the thousands in front of Northrup Auditorium that the father of her child had been unfairly profiled and targeted. He, she said, was able to be exonerated.
"Today we are hoping to get people together and kind of showcase that the people in Minnesota are in solidarity with what was going on down in Florida with the whole investigation and then the injustice what was served when the young boy was killed and the murderer was not arrested," said Sam Ndely of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.
More than a dozen speakers took to the podium on the auditorium steps using a sound system provided by the University. The sponsors had asked for a permit through the Black Student Union and it was granted.
"He was not committing any crime, nor carrying a weapon, but George Zimmerman thought he was suspicious because he was a young black man," said Marcus Harcus of north Minneapolis. Harcus was among those exhorting the crowd about Trayvon Martin.
Attorney Jacob Frey spoke for Protect Minnesota, an anti-gun violence group. "It was not a hooded sweatshirt that killed Trayvon. It was a gun," Frey said. "We have the responsibility to make sure that they do not have guns in their hands. How many people must die before we put an end to gun violence? Make Trayvon the last!"
Speaker after speaker led the crowd in a familiar chant of protest: "What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!"
After an hour of speeches, the crowd marched around the Northrup Mall before returning for a short concert by the group "Sounds of Blackness."
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