Special Prosecutor Decides on 2nd-Degree Murder Charge

Barrington M. Salmon | , WI Staff Writer | 4/12/2012, 1:15 a.m.

"Zimmerman's arrest marks an important milestone in black, brown and poor peoples' quest for justice, equality and freedom," he said.

"I'm very pleased charges have finally come about. It's a step in the right direction," said Maree, 24, who was born near Philadelphia but raised in South Africa. "Now we have to look at the processes in laws and institutions that perpetuate racial discrimination. We'll be working with Justice for Trayvon Martin.org and start to attack these issues."

McHarris agreed.

"When I first heard it was painful," the 27-year-old said. "I thought of Troy Davis, Sean Bell. This highlights the issues in which young black and brown bodies are perceived by civilians, informal and formal security, the police and others. People mobilized as a visceral reaction. We were able to do this because we're dealing with some very hurt people."

"For all the cases that were not elevated or publicized, Trayvon Martin was the opportunity for people to mobilize and express their pain, anger, frustration and the hope and desire for justice."

Anti-violence advocate David Bowers stirred up the March 24 crowd at the Washington, DC Justice for Trayvon Rally when he challenged them to have as much concern for every person who is murdered as they did for Trayvon.

"It's tragic that Trayvon was killed but it's just as tragic when black people are killed by other black people," said Bowers, founder of No Murders DC, to loud cheers. "Since I graduated high school in this city, thousands of people, most of whom look like me, have been murdered in this city. We need the same righteous indignation when a black man kills a black man or a black man kills a black woman as when a white man kills a black man."

Bowers, 41, said during an interview late Wednesday that while he was pleased to hear of Zimmerman's arrest, he isn't celebrating.

"When what should have happened happens, there's no cause to celebrate," said Bowers, a Northeast resident and vice president/market leader for Enterprise Community Partners. "The tragedy remains: a young man is still dead. I hope that for folks who have been focused on ensuring that justice was done - which is the right thing to do - they will have that same focus and zeal on everyone else who's murdered."

Congresswoman Frederica Wilson, (D-Fla.), reiterated an often-expressed desire of those African Americans interviewed, that Trayvon's murder leads to some heartfelt and honest conversations around race.

"While this chapter in the Trayvon Martin case may be over, we still need to have an honest and open discussion of the hard truths that led to this tragedy. Trayvon's death must not be in vain. Racial profiling still exists in our country. There's a level of distrust between law enforcement and black men. These are difficult conversations to have, but we must have them so that there will be no more tragedies like Trayvon's," Wilson said.