Tensions soared during the “Million Hoodie” march held in Union Square last night, a passionate response to the shooting of 17-year-old Florida teen Trayvon Martin by a neighborhood watchman.
An estimated 1,200 people donning dark hooded sweatshirts participated in the march, which blocked traffic along routes between Union Square and Wall Street.
Protestors chanted, “We are Trayvon Martin” and “No Justice, No Peace” while defiantly refusing to follow police orders to get on the sidewalk.
Occupy Wall Street protestors were also present at the march, displaying Malcolm X signs stating, “You can’t have capitalism without racism.” The Occupy Wall Street participants were some of the more zealous protestors, calling on-duty police officers "pigs," showing them derogatory hand gestures, and mocking their authority.
At least one arrest was witnessed by Metro; a young male marcher was lead away in handcuffs for refusing to clear the street.
That arrest encouraged further aggression from the marchers, who screamed at the cops that they were unarmed, and invoking their own constitutional rights.
What happened to Trayvon?
Because of Florida's "stand your ground" law, Floridians are allowed more leeway in claiming self-defense, and George Zimmerman, 28, has not been charged in the death on Feb. 26, although he reportedly admitted to shooting the unarmed teen.
The 2006 Florida state law allows residents to use deadly force if they "reasonably believe it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another or to prevent the commission of a forcible felony."
New Jersey resident Pat Ceasar, 50, said she was "enraged" that Zimmerman wasn't charged after hearing the 911 tapes released on Tuesday.
"This child was murdered and no one is being held responsible," added Renee Flemmings, 40, an Upper West Side teaching artist. "The man that shot him down in cold blood is walking around."
Flemmings held a bag of Skittles throughout the protest, a symbol of Martin's innocence, as the teen was reportedly purchasing candy before he died.
"I want George Zimmerman arrested," she said. "That's more fair than what Trayvon got."
"I'm really hoping to accomplish for people to realize that we should know what’s fair and unfair,” said 23-year-old Alfonso of Harlem. “We should realize what a life is worth. No life has a price tag."
Trayvon's parents at rally
Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton attended the rally.
“We’re not going to stop until we get justice for Travyon,” Martin said to the crowd. “My son did not deserve to die. George Zimmerman took Trayvon’s life for nothing.”
“My heart is in pain, but to see the support of all of you really makes a difference,” Fulton said to the throngs of protesters. “This is not about a black and white thing. This is about a right and wrong thing.”
Photos by Emily Anne Epstein and Natalie Placek for Metro.