The death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida has sparked conversation and protest nationwide about the way young, black men are perceived -- and how much their lives are worth in the eyes of the criminal justice system.
Martin was gunned down on Feb. 26 while returning to a gated community in Florida after buying candy nearby. The neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, allegedly followed the teen before shooting him, claiming he was "suspicious." Some have gone as far as to say the teen was targeted because he was wearing a hooded sweatshirt.
Zimmerman has not been charged in the slaying, which has outraged Martin's family, civil rights activists and those following the case.
In New York, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington D.C., hundreds of people have taken to the streets with their "hoodies up," demanding justice for the slain teen. The case has hit close to home in many cities, but in ultra-segregated Chicago, citizens and activists have spent much of the weekend bringing attention to not only Martin's case, but countless others.
Melanie Gresham, 24, joined a protest Saturday at Chicago's Daley Plaza -- and brought her entire family along, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“I would be traumatized if that happened to my son because of the color of his skin or just wearing a hoodie or just because he fits the stereotype of a thug,” Gresham told the paper.
Some protesters brought signs featuring photos of their relatives and friends who were killed by police officers in Chicago over the years.
Sherrie Moses, 50, told the Chicago Sun-Times that Martin's killing reminded her of the harassment her sons and brothers dealt with in Chicago.
“I knew about racism, but it took me to raise a black son to really know about racism,” Moses told the paper.
Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. called for an end to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, and others like it across the country. The law allows citizens to shoot others if they feel threatened by that person. In Zimmerman's case, he called 911 and was told by the operator to stop following Martin. Instead, he allegedly continued trailing the teen and that is when the shooting occurred. Martin was unarmed.
While much of the conversation has been about racial profiling and gun laws, members of Chicago's African American community saw the weekend protests -- which took place Friday, Saturday and even Sunday -- as an opportunity to draw attention to the hundreds of young, black people killed in Chicago every year.
Last weekend alone, 10 people were killed and more than 40 wounded in violence throughout the city. CBS Chicago reports that 100 black teenagers have been killed by gun violence in Chicago this past year.
“As we honor Trayvon, we also want to honor these young children who nobody is marching for, these young people who nobody is holding a protest for," Philip Jackson, executive director of the Black Star Project, told CBS.
Outspoken Rev. Michael Pfleger took to his Facebook page and the pulpit at St. Sabina Church on the South Side to discuss the Martin case, and has organized a moment of silence that will begin at 2:30 p.m. Sunday:
Please come out this Sunday at 2:30pm on 78th place and Racine in support and solidarity for the family of Trayvon and all of the families who've lost a child by gun violence!! We must stop guns from getting into the hands of killers! COME OUT AND WEAR YOUR HOODIES YOUNG PEOPLE!!!!
“I’m praying in this moment of Trayvon Martin, we connect the dots,” Pfleger said, according to CBS Chicago. “If you really honor Trayvon Martin, what are you going to do differently tomorrow about violence? What child are you going to reach out to? What youth center? What school? What will you do differently to fight the violence?”
Check out photos of this weekend's Trayvon Martin marches in Chicago here:
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