Demonstrations in larger and more-diverse cities clogged one of the country's most-infamous freeways and the "Crossroads of the World." Portland's rally decrying George Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin stuck to a couple blocks of North Portland.
That's not to take anything away from the event that played out yesterday afternoon in and around Peninsula Park. It was a spirited affair, to be honest, with hundreds of Portlanders flocking to the park's gazebo and shutting down traffic on a handful of normally busy streets (with nary a cop in sight).
When the march was over, though, and demonstrators went back to their Sunday evenings, it was hard to imagine anything concrete—some sustained momentum—would emerge locally from a verdict 2,500 miles away.
"We'll come out here today, but what will you do tomorrow?" asked Noni Causey, one of the dozens of speakers. "Racism is alive and well in this state, and what will we do?"
I asked Causey about the remarks. There were maybe 300-400 people at the demonstration at its high point, which she juxtaposed with the far greater numbers of cyclists who'd ridden into town Sunday as part of the yearly Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic. Why couldn't the rally, she wondered, inspire similar attendance.
"Don't come out here today and act like you care, than go back to your world tomorrow," she said, gesturing to the overwhelmingly white crowd that had amassed. "There's so many people who have moved into this neighborhood. They don't even speak to us. We live it everyday."
When she first heard of Martin's death—the armed Zimmerman followed Martin as he was walking home, thinking the teen suspicious, and an altercation ensued— 19-year-old Zarinah Mustafa said "I was sad, but I knew justice would be served."
While it appears that, under Florida
's maddening stand your ground law, Zimmerman is actually not guilty of murder, the verdict— to hundreds of thousands of people nationwide and at least three or four hundred people who made time to attend yesterday's rally— is anything but justice served.
"It's scary to know that I'm walking around and some people don't value my life," Mustafa said.
Elected leaders were largely absent from yesterday's event, with only State Rep. Lew Frederick grabbing the bullhorn. He was four years old and living in Louisiana, he said, when Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi.
"I was told: 'Watch out,'" Frederick said. "Across the country, that's the case. It's time to get past the fear."
Hit the jump for a short video of the march down Killingsworth.
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