LOS ANGELES (AP) — Civil rights leaders and relatives of Trayvon Martin and a slain California teenager joined together at a Los Angeles rally Thursday, urging justice and tolerance and called for action to stop the violence.
A photo of Martin wearing a hooded sweatshirt sat at the podium at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ with the word “Justice” written in red below his face. Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was shot on Feb. 26.
“There are Trayvons all over this country,” the Rev. Al Sharpton told the cheering crowd. “What kind of world are we living in that we can put a black man in the White House, but a black man can’t walk through a gated community?”
Martin was shot to death Feb. 26 as he walked on a rainy night in a Florida gated community.
Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton thanked the crowd, which donated thousands of dollars in cash and checks, to a foundation in her son’s name in a collection led by Sharpton, who contributed $500 himself.
“Be encouraged, I am encouraged. I believe justice will be served,” said Fulton.
Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, added that he made a vow to his son that he would not let Trayvon’s life be taken in vain.
Neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has been charged with second-degree murder in Martin’s death. Zimmerman claims self-defense, but Martin’s family claims he targeted the unarmed teen mainly because the teen was black. Zimmerman’s parents are white and Hispanic.
Comedian Paul Rodriguez, who grew up in Compton, said Latinos and blacks shouldn’t be divided by the Martin death and called for unity.
“They’re afraid of us because they don’t know us” Rodriguez said. “Let this not separate us.”
Kendrec McDade, a 19-year-old college student, was unarmed when he was shot to death last month by Pasadena police who were responding to what turned out to be a false report of an armed robbery.
“When they took something from me that made me want to give them a piece of my mind,” McDade’s father Kenneth McDade told the crowd. “Kendrec didn’t have nothing bad in his body,” McDade said.
McDade’s family has filed a claim against the city of Pasadena and five officers, alleging that poorly trained officers killed the teen.
Claudia Harrison, 53, said she had never attended a civil rights rally before Thursday night’s rally and said she was motivated by her son.
“I have a son. This could have easily happened to my son,” said Harrison, her voice breaking with emotion on the last word.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.