More than 200 people gathered Monday night near Kansas City’s Freedom Fountain on Brush Creek to protest the not-guilty verdict in the death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin.
Several speakers also broadened the scope of the rally to decry violence here at home and urge parents to take more responsibility in their homes and families. Kansas City has logged 56 homicides so far this year.
Speakers also urged the crowd to vote in order to bring about change.
“We’re not here just for Trayvon,” said Saundra McFadden-Weaver, a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a former city councilwoman. “We’re here for fairness. We’re here for justice. We’re here for freedom, and we’re here for peace. And we’ve got to start right now.”
Late Saturday, a six-member jury in Florida acquitted neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman, 29, who contended that he was defending himself when he shot Martin, 17, as the youth was walking home through a gated community in February 2012.
The case has sparked a national dialogue on racial profiling and the fairness of the criminal justice system. Some groups are asking for federal charges against Zimmerman.
City Councilman Michael Brooks urged those in the crowd to sign a petition calling for the Justice Department to act.