Eugene community speaks out for Trayvon Martin, local implications

Community members gathered Monday to stand against “social injustice,” sparked by the killing of 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin@@

Martin was allegedly shot and killed by Neighborhood Watch Program@@[email protected]@ member George Zimmerman.@@[email protected]@ Martin was coming home from a local convenience store in Sanford, Fla., wearing a hoodie @@[email protected]@and carrying iced tea and Skittles. Public outcry surfaced after reports that the Sanford Police Department @@ mishandled the case and Zimmerman remained untried.

Fergus Mclean, a member of Occupy Eugene@@, organized a march from the Campbell Center to the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza@@same [email protected]@ before the rally and vigil. The area near the Campbell Center was where black community members lived in Eugene before 1949, when their community was bulldozed to make way for the Ferry Street Bridge.

“It’s time for the people to take action and come together to understand each other,” Mclean said.

Lane Community College Black Student Union @@[email protected]@member Eric Richardson@@[email protected]@ spoke before the march began. Richardson recently returned from the United States Student Association Legislative Conference@@[email protected]@, where he advocated against modern-day racial profiling.

“There are students in Eugene concerned about this issue and we want positive change,” Richardson said.

Community members walked both sides of High Street chanting, “No justice, no peace” and “We are Trayvon” before reaching the Wayne Morse Free Speech Plaza. Members of the Occupy Eugene movement held up signs saying, “Live free and occupy,” and “De-colonize the mind.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Civil Liberties Defense Center@@all checked,, Eugene-Springfield Solidarity Network @@ Community Alliance of Lane County@@ organized the rally and vigil.

“We have to understand Trayvon is not an anomaly. His only crime was being born black in America,” said local NAACP President Henry Luvert, who spoke at the rally@@[email protected]@. “It doesn’t stop in Florida, we have the same things here in Oregon.”

ACLU Field Director Claire Syrett@@[email protected]@ spoke about the harsh realities of racial profiling.

“Ordinary Americans are routinely singled out for unjust treatment based on their perceived racial and ethnic identity,” Syrett said.

Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson@@[email protected]@ stood with fellow community members during the march and rally.

“Telling people about this horrible thing is important,” Sorenson said. “We want to make sure that this kind of injustice doesn’t happen in our community.”

University students made their presence known as well. University student and Occupy Eugene member Katie Armstrong spoke about the importance of student involvement and awareness.

“I think it is vital that students understand that they are a part of all this. We need to understand our role in society and that our actions and attitudes have a huge impact on others,” Armstrong said.

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Ryan Dutch

Ryan Dutch