Thousands gather for Trayvon Martin rally at Ga. Capitol

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ATLANTA - Thousands of people gathered at the state capitol for a rally for Trayvon Martin on Monday night.

They want lawmakers to take another look at Georgia's law, which is similar to Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law and why George Zimmerman has not been arrested.

Martin, 17, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman inside a gated Sanford, Fla. community. Zimmerman told police he shot Martin in self-defense, citing the law. Martin was wearing a hoodie and was holding Skittles and an Arizona iced tea he had just purchased at a convenience store.

“I want to spread the message that we shouldn’t profile and make stereotypes about people because I’m a Georgia Tech student, and I wear hoodies to school,” said Michael Reed.

Georgia students and residents crowded in front of the capitol, many of them wearing hoodies with Skittles in hand, to speak out against Georgia's version of the law.



“This is a special moment in history, and everything is going to be alright,”  one speaker said to the crowd estimated at 2500.

This is the first time in Georgia’s history where so many people gathered at the state capitol mostly wearing the same thing.

"We are coming to stand our ground against Stand Your Ground. We believe in some real sense that much of the policy was shortsighted," said the Rev. Markel Hutchins, who organized the rally.

Georgia's law, much like Florida's, gives people the right to use deadly force to defend themselves. In Georgia, it's called "No Duty to Retreat."

But demonstrators said George Zimmerman wasn't defending himself. They said he took his neighborhood watch duty a step too far, acting as a police officer after he was told to stop following Trayvon Martin during a 911 call.

"Zimmerman was the aggressor and for that reason it's piqued the minds all over the country and people of every race, color, and creed here in Georgia," Hutchins said.

Many believe race is the underlying issue in this controversial case, and a member of Atlanta's NAACP said there's still a hidden scar in this country.

"It looks good on the surface and I'm proud to have an African American president in office and I think the struggle still remains," said the Rev. Lee C. Franklin with the Atlanta chapter of the NAACP.

Monday’s rally was peaceful until the end. Georgia State Troopers struggled to clear the streets after crowds started shouting, “Whose streets? Our Streets!”

It took state troopers 20 minutes to clear Washington Street, but they didn’t arrest anyone Channel 2's crews were there.

The Atlanta rally coincided with a rally at a town hall meeting being held in Sanford. Martin's family and several well-known figures attended the Sanford City Commission meeting where the family was expected to deliver 1,000,000 petitions demanding the arrest of Zimmerman.

Professional football players Ray Lewis and Santonio Holmes joined civil rights leaders, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton, at the rally.

The Commission meeting was the first time Sanford commissioners have met since the city's police chief stepped down in what he called a temporary move.

The meeting was moved from City Hall to the Sanford Civic Center to accommodate the expected crowd.


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