A Call For Action
UB commemorates Trayvon Martin
In the corner under the shadows of the mid-afternoon sun, UB police stand guard. Through the dark lenses of their sunglasses they observe a crowd of 80-90 people, all with their hoods up, grasping Skittles and iced tea.
The crowd, aware of the presence of the armed officials, directs its attention to the table and bench. The eyes are on the stage, where people are sharing their opinions and experiences on the controversy at hand.
The rally was centered on Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old from Florida who was shot and killed for what appears to be no valid reason. The only things Martin had on him were the Skittles and iced tea that he just purchased. The young man sported a hoodie. The details of the case have caused quite a controversy.
With the case gaining publicity, Fight The Power UB felt it was imperative to raise awareness starting here at UB on the Academic Spine outside of the Student Union.
As the rally began, the circle of 20 people outside the SU gradually increased to about 90. Although many see the case as one that revolves around injustice for African Americans, the faces in the rally showed diversity with different races, ages, and sexes coming together. Although some did not share the same skin color as Martin, their passion was just as fierce.
"I wasn't surprised honestly [about the case]," said Mike Rausch, a senior history major and member of Fight The Power UB. "If it was a white woman who was killed by a black man or white man killed by a black man, in a similar situation like this, the black man would be in prison right now. But the fact is, the black person was killed in this situation and he's not going to get justice. I would feel like if any black people riot they are completely justified. If the legal system can't give justice I would like to see a vigilante group, like the New Black Panthers, go out and lynch [Zimmerman]."
With emotions running high, some still remained calm and collected about the situation. William Richardson, a senior sociology major and the founder of Fight The Power UB, was the voice of the rally. He's been a member for the past five years and considers Fight The Power UB as something that's always been a part of who he is.
"It seems at this point that whenever I see one of these young black men get murdered, I see another way in which I can die," Richardson said. "For me, it's not even a fact of being angry for the sake of being angry because anger doesn't even cut it anymore. After a certain point, the hurt and the pain and the anger gets so deep that you can't even express it anymore. In one sense, that kind of deep-seeded cold anger and hurt is a bad thing."
The death of Martin has brought numerous marches and messages throughout the country. In Miami at Southridge Senior High, students wore all black to commemorate Martin and then walked onto the football field to form "TM." In New York City, supporters came together in Union Square and formed a rally they named the "Million Hoodie March."
Fight The Power felt it was appropriate to do something for Trayvon's sake.
"Our organization is about doing [rallies] about this and moving forward to go into Buffalo communities and actually building a relationship with people in Buffalo to do active things," said Jade Lewis, a junior environmental design and political science major and President of Fight The Power UB. "A rally is a bit active, but actually helping people to become aware and actually go out and do things for themselves [is our mission]."
This rally is the first gathering of the sort in Buffalo, according to Lewis. She felt it was important to do something similar to the rally that took place in New York City in order to get something started.
With speakers at the rally standing on a table and people sharing their thoughts, it was emphasized that the Martin situation is not about a hoodie, Skittles, or iced tea - those just symbolize the controversy.
Every speaker felt that just talking about the issue was not enough. There needed to be action. Listeners clapped and nodded their heads in grievance. Some held flyers that read "Justice For Trayvon" with his picture on the front.
Other members of the crowd came from different schools to lend their support to the cause.
"We just want to strive for change in our community as African-Americans, as students, and as minorities in this country," said Richard Roseboro, Jr., a sophomore attending Canisius College and member of Fight The Power UB. "We want to fight all the injustices that are bestowed on those types of communities because everybody is affected by it."
With uncertainty in where the trial is heading, there have been petitions signed to bring justice and to place George Zimmerman, the accused killer, in handcuffs.
The call for change has been put out there, and Richardson and Lewis have set up meetings to educate people further about the case. A vigil will be held next week on South Campus for Martin and new ideas are being brainstormed to get the attention of legislators and the judicial system.