Thousands attend weekend rally in Columbia for Trayvon Martin - - Columbia, South Carolina

Thousands attend weekend rally in Columbia for Trayvon Martin

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Over three thousand people gathered in Finlay Park on Saturday to march for justice for an unarmed Florida teen who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

They wore hooded sweatshirts, or "hoodies" like the one 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was wearing the night he was shot and killed in Sanford, Florida. The hoodie, and the Skittles and iced tea Martin was carrying, have become symbols of a movement of people demanding justice for Martin's death.

March organizer Kyle Green said, "It's a sign that if you have on a hoodie it doesn't necessarily dictate that you're bad or an evil person or you want to cause harm."

"Trayvon is the Emmitt Till of our generation," said event co-chair Chris Sullivan. He's referring to the Mississippi 14-year-old who was beaten to death in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. 

"We all recognize that what happened to him is wrong and unfortunate and show that we all recognize that George Zimmerman needs to be punished for his actions," said rally attendee Erin Parker.

George Zimmerman claims he shot and killed martin in self-defense.

 "'A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' those are the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King and that's why we're here today," said Sullivan.

"If it happened in Florida, it can happen right here in South Carolina" said Sullivan.  "We have the same laws on our books."

"It shows that we here in Columbia, South Carolina know that something needs to be done," said Parker.

"The importance of this rally is that we go back and serve social justice in our communities in the name of Trayvon," said Sullivan. "This is the beginning of a movement, the civil rights movement of my generation. It's no longer a black or white issue as Trayvon's mom said.  It's a right or wrong issue."

In addition to a 1k march, moment of silence and official remarks, organizers also hosted a voter registration drive.

"Today is a message to the rest of the country that Columbia and the state of South Carolina, we are strong when we come together," said Sullivan.  We the people have the power, not the politicians, not the law enforcement.  We the people have the power."

Copyright 2012 WIS. All rights reserved.

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