Thousands of people have taken part in ‘Million Hoodie Marches’ and vigils in the US, including in New York, Miami, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, to demand justice for 17 year old African American Trayvon Martin.
Demonstrators have chucked Skittles on the pavement and carried bottles of ice tea, all that ‘armed’ Trayvon when he was shot dead in Sanford, Florida on 26 February.
Support for the protests increased after Fox News ‘commentator’ Geraldo Rivera said that the hoodie Martin was wearing was as much to blame for his death as the killer George Zimmerman.
Though called a ‘neighbourhood watch captain’ by the media, Zimmerman was not part of any registered watch groups. Eyewitness reports and 911 records have clearly indicated that Zimmerman was not acting in self-defence. Yet police officials have refused to charge Zimmerman with any crime, saying that there is ‘no evidence to contradict his self-defence claim’.
The police took Trayvon’s body to the morgue in a bag marked ‘unidentified’. They made no effort to contact his family despite having his mobile phone. Trayvon’s family didn’t find out for nearly three days.
The officer in charge, in a previous case initially hadn’t arrested a police lieutenant’s son for attacking a black homeless person on camera.
Marchers have chanted names of other victims of racist murders, including Ramarley Graham who was unarmed when shot by police in his home in February. Many young black demonstrators held signs saying: “Am I next?”
Working class communities and youth need a platform for fighting institutionalised racism and poverty. The Republicans and Democrats clearly have no interest in dealing with the problems facing African-American workers and youth. Both parties represent a system that has failed to provide decent living standards or the prospect of a safe future for the majority.
We need to build a mass movement need alongside an independent party of the working class and young people that fights for a democratic socialist society.