COMMUNITY VOICES | Ryan Williams-Virden – A Salute to the Community

There were so many beautiful people at the Hoodies Up MN march, so much beautiful energy, and it was truly inspiring. I am honored to have been present.To be honest I didn’t expect to feel like this. I was one of those people who thought protests and demonstrations had run their course. I felt like they offered a space for people to vent but were actually counterproductive because people left with no concrete plan to actually affect the balance of power.After the Hoodies Up MN rally, I feel differently.I realized why demonstrations are a crucial part of community building. Thousands of people, who knew each other to various degrees, saw how many people feel like them. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | #HoodiesUpMN rally inspires hope for our communities

On Sunday, a group of community organizers and citizens met at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) after the jury had read the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial.We had three main goals to discuss at the meeting: (1) What was the message we wanted to send out, (2) Who did we want to target with this message, and (3) What was the narrative going to be. During the meeting every one of us could feel the emotion in the room – people’s hurt, frustration, anger, sadness—and hope. As a recent resident to Minneapolis this was such a beautiful sight to me. Many ideas were shared and discussed as we began to create a long-term, and sustainable, plan for justice – not just for Trayvon Martin, but for everyone that is and has been affected by the racism that is entrenched within our society.Last week I came across a report by the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement entitled Operation Ghetto Storm.  This report was created with the goal of understanding the disregard of Black life in America, a disregard which has been vividly called to many of our minds by Trayvon Martin’s and Terrance Franklin’s deaths. It breaks down how our government and our society tolerates—and even supports—the extrajudicial execution of Black people: “In 2012, 313 Black people were executed without trial by police, security guards and self-appointed law enforcers.” Every 28 hours a father, mother, daughter, son, sister, brother is murdered. For me, the most startling statistic was that 66% were people aged 2 to 31. Continue Reading

#HoodiesUpMN protesters draw connection between Trayvon Martin and Terrance Franklin case in Minneapolis

The sweltering heat did not deter the crowd of Minnesotans who gathered in downtown Minneapolis on July 15 to protest the acquittal of George Zimmerman, Florida teen Trayvon Martin’s killer. Multiracial participants of all ages and of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds attended to express their concerns and anger with racism in the criminal justice system, and the racial profiling of black males and communities of color. Organizers from Neighborhoods Organizing from Change said they collected 3,000 signatures from participants on clipboards. The organizers had three demands: for the United States Department of Justice to bring criminal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman; for the prosecution of the police officer who recently shot and killed 22-year-old Minneapolis resident Terrance “Mookie”Franklin; and for the decriminalization of black youth and youth of color, locally and nationwide.The protesters also rallied against larger issues of police brutality, racial injustice and structural racism.Raising their fists in the air to symbolize “black power,” marchers zigzagged through downtown Minneapolis for more than an hour after listening to speeches.Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds, associate professor of law at the University of St. Thomas Law School, was one of more than a dozen speakers who took the mic to talk about racial inequity.Her impassioned speech called for a second civil rights movement in America.”We need to wake up! It’s time we wake up from our slumber!” she implored, calling for the African American community to stop being complacent about civil rights.”I refuse to be refused! And I am sick and tired of being sick and tired,” she repeated, to the crowd’s cheers and applause.Many speakers told the audience that the cause of the deaths of both Trayvon Martin and Terrance Franklin are connected by racial profiling. Continue Reading

Minnesotans protest verdict in killing of Trayvon Martin

UPDATED 7/16: Protesters marched through downtown Minneapolis, joining in a rally that connected the killing of Trayvon Martin and the acquittal of George Zimmerman to the police shooting of Terrance Franklin in Minneapolis. The Facebook posts collected below through Storify show images and reactions to the rally. The Facebook posts collected below through Storify show images and reactions to the rally.  Related stories:• BEHIND THE STORY | Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman: When will the cycle of racism stop? (Sheila Regan, 2013)• COMMUNITY VOICES | In the aftermath of Zimmerman’s acquittal, racial justice remains elusive (Nekima Levy-Pounds, 2013)• OPINION | Sidestepping race in Zimmerman’s trial only puts a bandaid on America’s racial wound (Lolla Mohammed Nur, 2013)• COMMUNITY VOICES | Zimmerman acquittal demonstrates that we can’t keep silent (Amber Jones, 2013)And add your comments at Talking about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman[If you don’t see the Storify photos and comments below, please refresh your browser window.][<a href=”//” target=”_blank”>View the story “#HoodiesUpMN Rally” on Storify</a>] Reporting for this article supported in part by Bush Foundation. Continue Reading

Trayvon and Anousone, beyond an (un)reasonable (in)justice

Hearing the words, “not guilty” can be the most joyous or frightening day of anyone’s life. But so is the person who is dead. Unable to speak for oneself. The world is angry, no, they are pissed off. Not at Zimmerman, but at the fact that a man can kill a boy and walk free, unpunished for his actions. History tells us this is the plight of the Black man. It is also the plight of many people of color funneling through a legal system that has its version of justice: sometimes it delivers, sometimes it doesn’t; and that typically depends on those in power and who are privileged. Continue Reading

Stand Your Ground: A white privilege hunting license

In Florida, we see what the “stand your ground” law has become – a hunting license for the folks you don’t like. George Zimmerman deliberately pursued Trayvon Martin because he assumed the hoodie-clad teenager was a criminal. George Zimmerman deliberately pursued Trayvon Martin after being told to stay away by the police. George Zimmerman deliberately pursued Trayvon Martin, a teenager who was holding a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona watermelon drink, while talking on the phone. George Zimmerman instigated the fight that led to Martin’s death. This was not “standing ones ground”, this was downright pursuit. Yet somehow the jury found that Zimmerman was justified in shooting Martin because he feared great bodily harm or death. The punchline is that as long as one gets scared, “stand your ground” means it is a legal free pass to go hunt people down and kill them. “Stand your ground” now means that instead of avoiding conflict, a white male person can go hunting. Continue Reading

Talking about Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman

Everybody is talking about the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, and the not guilty verdict in Zimmerman’s murder trial. If you have something to say, or if you have seen someone else who lives in Minnesota posting an insightful comment or analysis, please send us the link, or comment below.For example, here’s a Facebook post from Shannon Gibney:This [] is exactly how I feel right now. It’s not that I didn’t know how much our country and institutions feared and hated Black male life before, it’s just that the brutal reality has been forced into the forefront of my consciousness once again.In a little more than a month, the baby in my belly will come into this sad and beautiful world. Guess which sex I am more invested in than ever that it will be?If you want to comment here, you can do so in two ways:1) Sign in as a registered TC Daily Planet user and comment below or2) Use our Facebook comments below. We also welcome longer articles for Community Voices.In the Twin Cities, the #Hoodies Up for Trayvon rally will take place on Monday, July 15 at 6 p.m. (Official hashtag #HoodiesUpMn)You can also record a video comment using the tool below. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | In the aftermath of Zimmerman’s acquittal, racial justice remains elusive

Let’s face it, America has not done a very good job of reconciling its ugly and painful history of racism and oppression against African Americans and other people of color. The predominant attitude seems to be that what happened in the past stays in the past and that history has little to no bearing upon current happenings within our society. Sadly, as illustrated in the tragic murder of Trayvon Martin and in the aftermath of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, this could not be further from the truth. In this case, race played a significant role in the fact that Trayvon Martin, a young African American male, was profiled and stereotyped by Zimmerman as a criminal who was “up to no good,” as he walked in the rain through a gated community in Sanford, Florida.The lingering perception of the Black man as criminal and suspicious has plagued young African American men since the days of slavery and beyond. In fact, throughout the South following the abolition of slavery, laws were created that made standard behavior by Black men a crime and led to high rates of incarceration for that segment of the population. Continue Reading

Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman: When will the cycle of racism stop?

On Saturday night, July 14, 2013, the internet has exploded over the results of the George Zimmerman trial. Cries of shock, anger, and dismay resound on Facebook, on Twitter, around the blogosphere. There was a vigil already on Saturday, and there are more being planned.I feel sick to my stomach. We live in a country where a man can shoot another man, a Black man, in the chest, and get off free. How can this be?The laws are wrong, clearly. Continue Reading

OPINION | Sidestepping race in Zimmerman’s trial only puts a bandaid on America’s racial wound

Over the past several days, I have been watching the trial of George Zimmerman in horror, anger, and disgust. My heart has been heavy.I watched at the attempts to discredit Trayvon’s parents – Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. I watched as they cried throughout the trial, my heart aching as Trayvon’s mother looked away when her son’s dead body was shown on the screen. I could see the immense pain in her eyes.And then there was Trayvon’s friend, Rachel Jeantel. I watched how Zimmerman’s defense attorney grilled Jeantel with unnecessary details. Continue Reading