Rally remembers fallen teen

Black+Student+Alliance+President%2C+Senior+Emma-Lorraine+Bart-+Plange%2C+gives+a+speech+at+a+memorial+rally+for+Trayvon+Martin+at+the+clock+tower+on+Wednesday%2C+March+28.+Kristen+Miano+%2F+Associate+News+Editor
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Rally remembers fallen teen

Black Student Alliance President, Senior Emma-Lorraine Bart- Plange, gives a speech at a memorial rally for Trayvon Martin at the clock tower on Wednesday, March 28. Kristen Miano / Associate News Editor

Black Student Alliance President, Senior Emma-Lorraine Bart- Plange, gives a speech at a memorial rally for Trayvon Martin at the clock tower on Wednesday, March 28. Kristen Miano / Associate News Editor

Black Student Alliance President, Senior Emma-Lorraine Bart- Plange, gives a speech at a memorial rally for Trayvon Martin at the clock tower on Wednesday, March 28. Kristen Miano / Associate News Editor

Black Student Alliance President, Senior Emma-Lorraine Bart- Plange, gives a speech at a memorial rally for Trayvon Martin at the clock tower on Wednesday, March 28. Kristen Miano / Associate News Editor

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Black Student Alliance President, Senior Emma-Lorraine Bart- Plange, gives a speech at a memorial rally for Trayvon Martin at the clock tower on Wednesday, March 28. Kristen Miano / Associate News Editor

Students call for justice in Florida shooting case 

Shouts of “No Justice, No Peace” were heard up and down Saint Louis University’s campus. On Wednesday, March 28, students gathered around the clock tower holding signs and giving speeches before marching down West Pine Mall to the Busch Student Center and back. The reason for the demonstration was not an occurrence at SLU, but instead a response to an incident in Sanford, Fla: the shooting of 17-year old Trayvon Martin.

“We need to raise awareness about this because there are still ideologies and biases that exist,” Ashley Brownlee, president of the Society for African American Studies, said. “Because of these ideologies, unfair laws and unfair policies are still used to uphold injustices. Trayvon Martin didn’t have to die. I think that awareness needs to be raised, and [SLU students] need to be held accountable, especially at a school like this that promotes social justice.”

Martin, a 17-year-old high school student was found shot and killed in a gated neighborhood on Feb. 26. A volunteer neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, confessed he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman also sustained injuries from the altercation, suffering a broken nose and a head injury. Police did not arrest Zimmerman, a decision that has escalated into a national outrage over the last month.

Advocacy groups and media outlets have made claims that Martin’s race not only made him a target, but also influenced how the police investigated the case. Reports have varied about what actually happened the night Martin was shot. Some say Martin attacked Zimmerman first, while other reports state that Zimmerman stalked Martin and shot him unprovoked. Under a Florida law termed the “Stand Your Ground” law, individuals are allowed to retaliate in self-defense as opposed to fleeing the scene if a danger is perceived. As more details surface, critics call to question whether Zimmerman was rightfully suspicious of Martin’s presence in the area or if it was just the result of a prejudice.

The facts and motives in the case remain mostly ambiguous, but that has not stopped people across the nation from taking action. A petition on change.org calling for Zimmerman’s arrest has garnered more than 2 million signatures. On March 21, hundreds marched through Manhattan in a “Million Hoodie March,” a march named for the hoodie Martin wore the night he was shot. Other similar marches have been in held in cities such as Philadelphia and Los Angeles.

This Wednesday, the movement came to SLU’s campus.

“Students came to me last week and said they wanted to do something that would commemorate Trayvon Martin’s memory and to bring awareness to campus,” Patrice French, coordinator in the Cross Cultural Center, said. “They decided they wanted to do a kind of memorial rally.”

Before the march, the African American Studies Program held a Brown Bag Lunch discussion entitled “Hoods: What happened to Trayvon Martin?” The discussion addressed the factors that played a role in Martin’s death.

“Its important to have things like this at SLU because the mission encourages us to fight for social justice and seek for truth, two things connected to this killing,” French said. “I think its great students have found another ways to bring awareness to these issues besides just having a discussion about it.”

In an effort to make a greater impact, a memorial rally was held in the Clocktower Plaza after the discussion that not only raised awareness in the broader SLU community about the issue, but also commemorated Martin’s death. The rally was organized and hosted by several groups on campus, including the Black Student Alliance, the SLU chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Society of African American Studies, SOJOURN (Sisters On A Journey of Unity Renewal and Networking) and the CCC.

At the rally, both students and faculty spoke, speaking about the circumstances surrounding Martin’s death and calling on the students in attendance to call their Congressional representatives and spur them to action. Students made posters featuring statements calling for justice and referencing the Martin case and carried them across SLU’s campus during to march to and from the BSC.

“I think it’s a striking way to get people’s attention, to get people out in the middle of campus with a microphone and posters and say we think this is important, please listen to us, support us and hear where we are coming from,” French said. “That’s why I felt that the rally was an impactful experience. I was happy to see that there is a group of people committed to stand out in the sun and not be afraid of what other people might think of what they are doing.”

French was not the only person impacted by the rally. Junior Sean Worley attended the rally and said he thought the rally was emotionally moving, especially in light of the University’s Jesuit mission.

“I thought the demonstration was very powerful,” Worley said. “What really grasped me was that there was a vast diversity of a variety of individuals that attended the rally, walking in solidarity.”

Brownlee also thought the rally was a success and was happy so many SLU students came out to show support.

“It is true that anyone who is a believer in justice and a believer of love will show up,” Brownlee said. “It’s a collective effort. If we want to stop oppression on all fronts we all have to come together and stand up for each other.”