The Dayton community rallied around area civil rights leaders on Saturday afternoon as part of a nationwide event in support of Trayvon Martin, the 17-year-old who was killed by a neighborhood watch leader in Florida last year.
Approximately 300 people of all races turned out at the Federal Building , 200 W. 2nd Street, for the rally held by the Adam Project, a local rights group whose mission is to end mass incarceration.
The event was held in conjunction with the National Action Network’s “Justice for Trayvon” rallies, held in 100 cities across the country one week after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the death of the Florida teenager.
Members of the Dayton Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the Dayton Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Nation of Islam Dayton Study Group and other religious leaders all spoke at the rally.
The Rev. Jerome McCorry, the founder and president of The Adam Project Inc., spoke of the need for civil rights organizations to work together in Dayton.
“We’ve got enough organization,” McCorry said. “Now it’s time to get organized.”
Tom Roberts, third vice president of the Dayton NAACP, spoke about House Bill 203, which could bring controversial stand your ground laws to Ohio. Roberts implored the crowd to speak to state representatives about not supporting the bill.
“We can no longer sit on the sidelines,” Roberts said. “It’s not an option.”
Lenise Knight of Huber Heights, a mother of two teenage boys, came to the rally with a homemade sign which read: “Trayvon could be your son or mine. Stop HB 203.” She said was she was moved by the not guilty verdict, but also the possibility of stand your ground laws coming to Ohio.
“You can’t fight guns with more guns,” Knight said. “There are so many other ways we can address the problems with our society.”
Many leaders spoke of the importance of the community staying together for the upcoming trial of two security guards accused of fatally shooting Dante Price at the Summit Square Apartments in March 2012. Justin Wissinger and Chris Tarbert told police they had no choice but to shoot Price because he was using his car as a weapon.
SCLC president Bishop Richard Cox told the crowd it must rally for the upcoming trial, scheduled to begin Sept. 16. He’s hoping the trial will receive national media attention.
“He could’ve been your son,” Cox said.