» ASSOCIATED PRESS
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Hundreds rallied Monday at the location where Martin Luther King Jr. was slain in Memphis to call for the arrest of a Florida man in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager.
The rally at the National Civil Rights Museum featured speeches from Memphis-area activists and Mayor A C Wharton, who is black.
Children joined adults, and whites joined blacks, at the rally. Participants held up signs saying “Why?” and “We are Trayvon.” Most bowed their heads in a three-minute prayer during a ceremony that also included poetry readings.
Trayvon Martin, 17, was killed Sunday, Feb. 26, in a neighborhood in Sanford, Fla. A neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother Hispanic, has said he shot Martin in self-defense.
Police said the teen did not have a gun. Zimmerman has not been arrested.
Angela Martin, 45 and no relation to the slain teen, watched the crowd gather from a nearby fire escape. A mother of a 14-year-old boy and a 21-year-old college student, the nurse practitioner said either one of her children could have been Martin “at the wrong moment.”
“When I heard about this, my heart just broke,” said Martin, who is black.
The museum is located at the site of the former Lorraine Motel where King was shot on a balcony on April 4, 1968. King was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers’ strike.
The hotel is considered hallowed ground by black Memphis residents and civil rights activists alike.
“He died fighting for our civil rights,” Martin said of King. “And Trayvon’s civil rights were just violated.”
Wharton said people across the mid-South should set aside their differences and stand in support of the slain teen. He also denounced attempts to portray the teen in a negative light after it was revealed he had been suspended from school for marijuana.
“Even if he had been a bad boy, he deserved to live,” Wharton said. TAS