In light of the recent controversial death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, hundreds of WMU students marched in support of justice. Martin, who was not armed, but was wearing a hoodie and carrying iced tea and candy, was shot by a member of a neighborhood watch group, George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman was not formally arrested, and was not charged with any crimes, because of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, which allows lethal force to be used in cases of self defense.
The Broncos 4 Trayvon March began at the Bernhard Center last Monday, and grew as hundreds of students marched across campus calling for justice. This rally was part of a movement that has been occurring countrywide, as people in all parts of the country have been holding public demonstrations.
Students said they had many different reasons for joining the protest.
WMU Freshman Kahlil Lewis said, “I chose to participate because I feel that the justice system in Florida is too harsh, and the self-defense laws are too strict. I don’t think a young man should have had his life taken away so early.”
WMU freshman Kaylah Turner said, “I chose to participate because every day, there are injustices, and very rarely can African Americans unite to come together and stand up for something. I felt that this was one of the chances at Western that could actually get African Americans united on the same page, to see eye to eye.”
As the hoodie-clad students marched across campus, a chant for justice rang out.
“I think these rallies bring forth awareness to those who might not necessarily know much about it and to look more into it, or to show that this is an injustice that needs to be taken seriously, that people will protest, will rally, and will fight against a decision that we all think is unjust,” Turner said.
“These rallies show that we care as a people. As fellow African Americans, we shouldn’t let things like this show that we don’t care. This shows that we care about the young man. Even though he was murdered in Florida, and we’re in Michigan, it still shows that we care,” Lewis said.
As more information in the Martin case surfaces, there have been many allegations of racism.
“If the ruling is in his favor, and it is found that he was murdered, and the criminal is convicted, it shows that we’re growing as a country, but if not, it shows that we’re still stuck in an old frame of mind that you may not want to call racism, but it is. I feel that we are given this thought that we are America, land of the free, and I feel that it is a contradiction,” Turner said.