Protesters rally against racial profiling and Trayvon Martin verdict in New York City

Hundreds gathered in Union Square in support of Trayvon Martin. Credit: Bess Adler/Metro
Hundreds gathered in Union Square in support of Trayvon Martin.
Credit: Bess Adler/Metro

Hundreds of New Yorkers gathered in Union Square Sunday to decry the racial profiling many said led to the death of a 17-year-old black boy in Florida.

“It affects our entire community,” said Kellie Knight, 43, of the Bedford Stuyvesant section in Brooklyn.

When Knight heard George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the murder of Trayvon Martin, she stayed up all night thinking about explaining the verdict to her young daughter.

“I have to explain to my 10-year-old she might be profiled,” Knight said at the protest, tearing up. “Somebody might try to kill her just because she’s black.”

Politicians and protesters at the peaceful demonstration spoke out against the jury’s verdict, noting the decision particularly resonated in New York, over a thousand miles away.

“We know that racial profiling happens every day in the city,” said Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, who was joined at the rally by his wife, who is black, and their teenage daughter.

In between cries of “No Justice, no peace,” protesters brought up NYPD’s surveillance of Muslim communities and the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk practice as local examples of profiling.

At the rally, de Blasio slammed Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his plans to veto a City Council bill that would allow people to file claims of racial profiling against police in state court.

“The Mayor’s in denial about profiling,” he said.

In a statement on the verdict, Bloomberg criticized Florida’s stand-your-ground law, saying such laws “inspire dangerous vigilantism and protect those who act recklessly with guns.”

While Bloomberg didn’t mention Martin’s race in the statement, de Blasio and other politicians spoke freely about the connection.

“Trayvon was gunned down because of the color of his skin,” Manhattan Borough President and city comptroller candidate Scott Stringer said.

City Councilman Jumaane Williams noted it was too difficult to be a black man in America—a sentiment expressed by many protesters.

“I’m very scared as a black man walking in the street,” said J. Michael King, 30, from Harlem.

Bedford Stuyvesant resident Alex Brueggeman, 24, said the verdict was “soul-breaking.”

“It’s just another reminder your life isn’t valued,” said Brueggeman, who is black.

Julian Pearson, 24, grew up in Sanford, Fla., where Martin was shot. He said similar incidents happened throughout his childhood.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said the black Harlem resident.

Staring at the throng of protesters, Pearson still expressed optimism.

“I believe now, with Trayvon placing his face on this, we’ll start another civil rights movement,” he said.

Other rallies were held on Sunday in Harlem, Borough Hall in Brooklyn and the South Bronx.

Follow Anna Sanders on Twitter: @AnnaESanders


Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."


Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.


Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…


New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.


Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…


Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.


Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.


Review: 'Fading Gigolo' finds few jokes in women…

John Turturro writes, directs and stars in "Fading Gigolo," in which he plays a prostitute whose pimp is Woody Allen. And there's still very few jokes.


Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.


Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.


Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…


Rangers' speed versus Flyers' size makes interesting playoff…

Among the myriad aspects that will make this Metropolitan Division semifinal series fascinating will be the battle between the Rangers' speed and the Flyers' size,…


Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.


Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.


Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.


Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.