Rally calls for end to stand your ground laws
Toledoan Randa Taylor donned a light gray hoodie as she and her sister, Rachel Ajiboso, sweated from high temperatures and humidity Saturday, July 20, during a vigil on the steps of the Lucas County Courthouse in support of Trayvon Martin.
A week earlier, a six-woman jury in Sanford, Fla., acquitted George Zimmerman of second-degree murder in the February 2012 shooting death of Martin, 17.
Taylor, a mother of two girls, ages 8 and 2, said she supports changing the stand your ground laws in America, which allowed Zimmerman, 29, who was a self-appointed neighborhood watchman to follow and subsequently kill Trayvon during a scuffle.
“It needs to change,” said Taylor, 27.
Trayvon was wearing a hoodie and walking back to his father’s home in a gated community carrying ice tea and a bag of Skittles when Zimmerman killed him. The gunman claimed self-defense.
Ohio does not have a stand your ground law. Michigan, Florida and nearly two dozen states have the law.
Ajiboso, 29, who has an 11-year-old son and 14-year-old daughter, agrees with Taylor on the elimination of stand your ground laws.
The sisters were among hundreds in Toledo and thousands across the country who attended rallies and vigils and carrying signs and placards in support of Trayvon and against the Zimmerman verdict.
“I don’t know how I would feel if (her son) didn’t come back home,” Ajiboso said referring to the night Zimmerman killed Trayvon. “The laws need to be changed and justice needs to be served.”
The Rev. Cedric M. Brock, pastor of Mount Nebo Baptist Church, was an organizer of the vigil and one of about a dozen speakers.
“We’re bringing public awareness of mistreatment of blacks and minorities,” said Brock, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Toledo before the start of the event. “It’s unacceptable. Enough is enough. We’re just fed up.”
During the rally, Brock said the purpose was to bring unity and for residents to stick together.
“Everybody’s mad,” Brock said. “We must not stop until something is done.”
Dr. Shirley Green, deputy mayor for the city of Toledo, said she attended the event to show support for Trayvon.
Green said she doesn’t want people to forget about what happened that winter night in Florida and for the Toledo community to honor him.
State Sen. Edna Brown, a Democrat who represents District 11, called on residents to support the legislative black caucus in a petition drive to stop the stand your ground law from becoming law in Ohio. The measure is called House Bill 203.
Chris McBrayer, youth minister at Glass City Church of Christ, was the architect of the rally.
“This means so much,” McBrayer said.
When Trayvon’s parents see photographs of Toledoans and others across the nation supporting their son and standing for justice, it will bring them joy, he said.
McBrayer’s pastor, the Rev. Robert G. Birt, said injustice is not an option to fight, but a requirement.
People must stop committing crimes, Birt said. Instead, they must fight voter suppression laws, cuts to education and attacks on rights to religious freedom, Birt said.
Toledo Mayor Mike Bell spoke and called for a 30-day moratorium on killings in the city.
That could give the Martin family solace in their son’s death, Bell said.
“His life counts for something,” he said. “And we’ll send a message to Florida that Toledo cares.”
Apparently, some didn’t listen or care about Bell’s message.
Not long after the rally, someone shot two people in the Port Lawrence Homes.
About 10 p.m., Sunday, July 21, someone shot and killed Rudy Staples Jr. on Potomac near Fernwood.