CHICAGO (CBS) — Thousands of people filled Federal Plaza, participating in Chicago’s “Justice for Trayvon” vigil.
A series of speakers compared the death of the Florida teen, and the outrage in the African-American community over the acquittal of the neighborhood watch volunteer who shot him, to the 1955 murder of Chicago teenager Emmett Till, who was killed in Money, Miss., for whistling at a white woman.
Till’s killers were acquitted at trial, and then boasted about what they had done. The Till murder helped spark the modern civil rights movement.
Till’s cousin, Erica Gordon Taylor, said the verdict, in favor of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, “ripped open” old wounds in Till’s extended family.
“When I heard the verdict, I said, ‘Wow. This is what this must have felt like 58 years ago,'” Taylor said.
Many others equated Till and Martin.
“We are obligated to bring Trayvon Martin justice because we are the city of Emmett Till,” said the Rev. Gregory Livingston, of the Mission of Faith Baptist Church, who said race relations today in many ways are “the same old mess.”
Livingston and other speakers urged those outraged over the verdict to register and vote, and to write the U.S. Dept. of Justice demanding an exhaustive civil rights investigation.
“It’s not good enough to just come here and remember Trayvon,” said the Rev. Michael Pfleger, senior pastor at St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church in the south side Auburn-Gresham neighborhood. “We must come here and make up our minds that the bullet that killed Trayvon woke us up, and we ain’t going back to sleep till justice flows down.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson said that the only way for Chicagoans to make Florida lawmakers realize the follow of “stand your ground” laws is to invoke a meaningful boycott of Florida attractions.
“Steve Wonder will not perform. Sororities, fraternities, conventions, spring breaks. We must all boycott Florida and stop stand your ground laws,” he said. “No more conventions. No more concerts. No more parties. No more spring breaks. Stand your ground on Florida’s laws.”
The rally was one of around 100 coordinated by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, which were scheduled to take place simultaneously in cities across the country, most occurring outside of federal office buildings housing Justice Department offices.
Afterward, about 200 people marched over Adams Street and up Michigan Avenue to Millennium Park.