Entire families showed up Sunday afternoon at the corner of Classen and NW 23rd St. in Oklahoma City to demand justice for Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen gunned down near his father's house by an armed neighborhood security guard.
Martin was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and carrying a bag of skittles when he was shot. The security guard said he shot Martin in self-defense. Now many are worried that something like this could happen in Oklahoma because of certain state laws.
A crowd numbering in the hundreds chanted "No justice, no peace," over and over during the demonstration. Protesters young and old, black and white, stood together in their hoodies as cars drove by and honked their horns in support. Many in the crowd said they hoped the rally would prevent a young innocent life from being taken away.
"My son has walked to the store, I can't tell you how many times, to get his own pack of skittles and ice tea," said rally organizer, Ashley McMillen."I can't imagine someone in my own neighborhood having the power to take his life because they deem him suspicious."
There were many mothers and fathers in the crowd who said the rally was a lesson to America to stand up and demand justice for Martin.
"You can't judge a book by its cover," said LaVetra Freeman. "Don't assume at any given time that someone is dangerous because of the way they look or the way they dress."
Freeman attended the rally with her family. After hearing about the Trayvon Martin incident, she said she feared her own 8-year-old son had a target on his back because of the way he likes to dress and the color of his skin.
"I don't want my son to be harassed, mistreated, disrespected, because he's wearing a hoodie. I don't want anyone to see him and think he's a criminal, he's a gang member because he likes to wear hoodies," said Freeman.
A major issue that has stirred up controversy in the Martin killing was that the shooter claimed he shot Martin in self-defense under a "Stand Your Ground" Law in Florida. Rally organizers in Oklahoma City said there are similar laws in Oklahoma. And while they were written with the intent of protecting Oklahomans, organizers said they could actually let a killer off the hook.
"This stand your ground offense is meant to protect people who are in imminent danger of being harmed," said rally organizer Julie Brown. "This was a young, unarmed teenage boy that got gunned down in the street like a dog. This is no grounds for stand your ground."
The group of demonstrators signed a banner for Trayvon Martin's family to show solidarity and sympathy. Freeman said she brought her son to the event because it was a perfect opportunity to teach him a life-lesson.
"To be himself at any given time, I want him to feel that he is equally, [he] should be equally treated. He is capable of doing whatever he wants to do as long as it's in a safe environment," said Freeman.
The demonstrators hoped their actions today would prevent a situation like Trayvon Martin's killing from happening in Oklahoma City.