Urbana march for Trayvon Martin a call for action

Urbana march for Trayvon Martin a call for action

URBANA — About 100 people in Urbana added their voices to others across the nation Saturday in calling for civil rights violation charges to be filed against George Zimmerman, acquitted a week earlier of the February 2012 murder of Trayvon Martin, 17, in Sanford, Fla.

“I am Trayvon. I am somebody,” Champaign County NAACP President Patricia Avery hollered through a bullhorn at the crowd gathered at the federal courthouse in downtown Urbana.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,” she said, quoting Dr. Martin Luther King. “It is time to snap out of it, people.”

Many in the group had marched from King Park on North Lincoln Avenue to the front door of the courthouse in hot and humid conditions that felt more like the deep South than central Illinois.

Some wore their sweat shirt hoods up and had packages of Skittles pinned to their clothing, a nod to the candy — not a weapon — Trayvon had in his pocket when killed. And they carried signs that said such things as “Invest in Community, Not Incarceration,” and “I Am Not a Criminal.”

There, they listened to several speakers who urged them to shake off complacency and get involved in groups working on behalf of African-Americans.

“This is not an event. This is an organizing effort,” said Carol Ammons, an Urbana alderwoman and a member of several of the groups that joined in the rally.

“You have to be involved and engaged and do the work God has called you to do, however you see that God,” Ammons said.

She urged the group to contact local representatives to speak out against the construction of more jail space. She and others also told the crowd to contact state and federal legislators to object to laws such as Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” and the recently passed concealed carry in Illinois.

“The mass arming of the U.S. white population is a threat to the black community,” said Sundiata Cha Jua, moderator for the peaceful protest and a University of Illinois associate professor of African-American studies and history.

Ammons’ husband, Aaron Ammons, a local activist, and a member of the Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, also did his best to motivate the group. He called for support for the Citizens With Conviction group and the “Ban the Box” campaign, an effort to help convicted felons get meaningful employment and other opportunities by not labeling them as convicted felons for life.

“Slavery has never been abolished in the United States,” he said, noting that a criminal conviction can keep a person from pursuing an education, housing and employment.

Other younger speakers included Keyonte Cobb, a Parkland College student, and Jamie Gatson, a recent graduate of Central High School.

Cobb, a member of the Champaign New Optimistic Legacy Achievers Debaters, invited other young people to a roundtable discussion at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday at Parkland College about the Zimmerman verdict and what it means about societal attitudes toward young black men.

“It’s important to see a different side of the product that comes out of the neighborhood. It’s important to see someone doing positive things,” Cobb said.

Gatson gave the crowd a sample of a video that his group, Illinois Music Group, did in tribute to Kiwane Carrington, an unarmed Champaign 15-year-old shot to death four years ago by a Champaign police officer who was trying to restrain the burglary suspect from leaving the scene.

Gatson, of Champaign, said he’d been working on the video in his head for a long time but only recently decided he needed to speak publicly about the community pain caused by the teen’s death.

The video, entitled “One More Day,” was put on YouTube a few days ago and had about 700 views in its first three days, Gatson said. It can be viewed at: http://bit.ly/13Vg7nM.

Cha Jua said he felt Saturday’s event was an important attempt to let the Justice Department know that it should pursue civil rights violations against Zimmerman.
“We brought together a large multiracial group of people fighting for social justice in Champaign. We joined with 100 other cities to send a message to the federal government. We are committed to building a movement to overturn ‘Stand Your Ground’ legislation, repeal conceal carry and begin to make an impact in converting America from a society that thrives on the brutalization of African-Americans to a society that lives up to the lofty ideals stated in the Constitution,” he said.

Sponsoring groups included the NAACP, the Ministerial Alliance, SisterNet, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice, Citizens With Conviction, the Black Chamber of Commerce, the North End Breakfast Club, the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence, the National Council of African-American Men and AON Center for Community Arts & Development.


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charlesf wrote on July 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm

"Folks" is such an awkward phrasing and such a way of otherizing the people about whom you're writing. You can just call them "people" and maybe add a footnote about how people of color make you uncomfortable.

Mattsmusings wrote on July 20, 2013 at 4:07 pm

"The mass arming of the US white population is a threat to the black community" haha yes because only white people have guns. What a joke. Don't worry about all the black on black gun crime that takes place everyday all over the nation. Yes please ignore Chicago where there are numerous murders every week and the vast majority is black on black. Yes let's worry about the "arming" of the white community! And sure bring Kiwane back into things, the kid killed while ignoring commands from police officers and who resisted arrest.. The case that numerous investigations by the state police and FBI! Pull the race card when it's convenient! 

sweet caroline wrote on July 20, 2013 at 5:07 pm

I still want to know where the outrage is for all the black victims of crime....committed by black perpetrators!  If TM had been white and GZ had been black, the media wouldn't have given it a moment's notice.  Obama, the liberal media, and all their brainwashed believers are out for blood.  They won't rest until GZ is dead.  The mindless marauders will hunt him down and slaughter him, in memory of sweet little Trayvon. 


Wake up, people!  This was not a race-associated crime!


Shay wrote on July 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

Where is the outrage for the poliferation of guns manufactured in this country? You can't put weapons in a depressed community and think they won't be used. You can't create or let stand an environment of drugs and discourse and not think people will pick up the arms. Killings in the African American community did not start this year or last. It has been a problem for a long time because the same conditions have existed for decades (racism, drugs, prejudice and economics). Less than 10 years removed from segregation we moved into Reaganomics which basically told white Americans that the Governement was their problem and it's helping those Black people get ahead of you. God forbid what has transpired since. Not the first time racism was used to pit the masses against each other. All the time the wealthy is picking our pockets. Everyone better wake up.

Reykjavik wrote on July 20, 2013 at 8:07 pm

Well I am hardly a "brainwashed believer" of the liberal media, but in my view the Trayvon-Zimmerman case was one loser attacking another loser.  Loser = under-educated, underemployed youth with lousy families (if undereducated, underemployed parents).

Few expect Obama to be so naive as to pursue up this news blip, instead we'll leave that pursuit to Rush, Sarah, Glenn and related types.

charlesf wrote on July 21, 2013 at 12:07 am

Thanks for the edit, folks. 

Shay wrote on July 21, 2013 at 9:07 am

We should ignore the trolls who come on and have no desire to improve the condition of African Americans in CU or anywhere else for that matter. As a people we know we don't manufactor guns but they seem to seep into a communtiy in mass and we surely have nothing to do with these concealed weapons laws and the elevation of shoot-on-site (i.e. Stand your ground) laws. These laws have been a progression in this country for years. It wasn't enought to let people carry concealed weapons. We had to give them the laws to shoot and not worry about prosecution.

I think the phrase "arming white America" is a bulls-eye term that  I wish I had thought of myself, it speaks the truth, and the truth hurts. I ask all Americans regardless of your color to join the movement in ridding our society of this sickness that has engulfed this country for over 200 years. Black people aren't going anywhere and nor is our Hispanic and Asian brothers and sisters. To think giving people the right to kill without consequences will not stand. Those whites who think this is insane, and there are many, should speak out too. We are not enemies in this country. Only those who do not find a problem with what happened to Trayvon is a threat to this country and all of us who live here.

militantlibertarian wrote on July 21, 2013 at 10:07 am

Guns are not the problem, ignorant people are. The second amendment is one of our most sacred of rights and needs to be preserved at all cost. Concealed carry is another right as well as self defense. The main reason for these rights is to protect ourselves from tyrannical government, the day our gun rights are abolished is the day we all will become enslaved by this government, that's already shown what its capable of in last 12 years or so under 2 of worst president in our history, bush and Obama.

militantlibertarian wrote on July 21, 2013 at 10:07 am

A yes the perfectly ignorant remarks by this sua jua clown that the mass arming of whites are a threat to the black community makes me laugh. This clown must not realize the mass majority of inner city violence is black on black crime. Since 2005 to 2012 blacks have killed roughly 3550 whites compared to around 1500 blacks killed by whites, these are stats from the FBI uniform crime reports. More blacks have used stand your ground laws to get off charges or have charges not filed than whites. George Zimmerman wasn't even a all white person but he became white for the medias exploitation of this case. Whites like myself are mass arming not because of blacks but because of the government. This clown Jua needs to spend his rhetoric solving problems in his own cultures community instead of scape boating whites all the time. Until they accept responsibility for their own actions and clean up their communities, nothing will change.

militantlibertarian wrote on July 21, 2013 at 10:07 am

Felons want to stop being stigmatised? Stop committing felony crimes, that's the real and simple solution, it's no ones fault but their own if they screwed up and got a felony.

cretis16 wrote on July 21, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Tell the media to quit refering to Zimmerman as a "white Hispanic". By that logic,Obama must be a White African-American. Take a look at those Travon Pics of the gun and gangster, that is conviently missing from the tale. Al Shapton and Jua are going to tell us about how TM opened soup kitchens and volunteered for the homeless next. These marches and comments by taxpayer  paid U of I faculty members are made to stir the pop.Was this the same jury that let innocent OJ free.....no marches for that was there......

Local Yocal wrote on July 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm
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Racial bias

In 2011, law enforcement agencies reported that 3,465 single-bias hate crime offenses were racially motivated. Of these offenses:

  • 72.0 percent were motivated by anti-black bias.
  • 16.7 percent stemmed from anti-white bias.
  • 4.8 percent resulted from anti-Asian/Pacific Islander bias.
  • 4.7 percent were a result of bias against groups of individuals consisting of more than one race (anti-multiple races, group).
  • 1.9 percent were motivated by anti-American Indian/Alaskan Native bias.

Crimes against persons

Law enforcement reported 4,623 hate crime offenses as crimes against persons. By offense type:

  • 45.6 percent were intimidation.
  • 34.5 percent were simple assault.
  • 19.4 percent were aggravated assault.
  • 0.2 percent consisted of 4 murders and 7 forcible rapes.
  • 0.3 percent involved the offense category other, which is collected only in the National Incident-Based Reporting System.

By bias motivation

An analysis of data for victims of single-bias hate crime incidents showed that:

  • 47.4 percent of the victims were targeted because of the offender’s bias against a race.
  • 20.4 percent were targeted because of a bias against a particular sexual orientation.
  • 19.2 percent were victimized because of a bias against a religious belief.
  • 12.2 percent were victimized because of a bias against an ethnicity/national origin.
  • 0.8 percent were targeted because of a bias against a disability.

By race

In 2011, the races of the 5,731 known hate crime offenders were as follows:

  • 59.0 percent were white*.
  • 20.9 percent were black.
  • 7.1 percent were groups made up of individuals of various races (multiple races, group).
  • 1.4 percent were Asian/Pacific Islander. 
  • 0.8 percent were American Indian/Alaskan Native.
  • 10.8 percent were unknown.

* are hispanics/latinos now considered "white"?


Local Yocal wrote on July 21, 2013 at 5:07 pm
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"The main reason for these rights [gun ownership] is to protect ourselves from tyrannical government, the day our gun rights are abolished is the day we all will become enslaved by this government,..."

Are you seriously prepared to have a shoot out with police? For what reason? Describe how this "enslavement" is to happen to 300 million people....

cretis16 wrote on July 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm

And the % of crimes committed by blacks is...?

Local Yocal wrote on July 21, 2013 at 7:07 pm
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From 1993 to 2008, among homicides reported to the FBI for which the victim-offender relationship was known, between 21% and 27% of homicides were committed by strangers and between 73% and 79% were committed by offenders known to the victims.

From 1980-2008, 84% of white victims were killed by whites, 93% of black victims were killed by blacks.


Local Yocal wrote on July 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm
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"% of crimes..."- definition of "crime" is important. Incidents and arrests are two different things. Most crimes, particularly property crimes, are not solved, i.e. no arrests, therefore the race of the offender is unknown.

Examples: In 2009, Champaign County reported 1409 burglaries; but there were only 358 arrests for burglary. In 2009, Champaign County reported 121 incidents of rape, yet only 21 arrests for rape were made.

Another factor is who the state's attorney decides to prosecute. In 2011, there were 8,400 police reports filed with the State's Attorney's office. But only 2,131 felonies, 1,392 misdemeanors, and 718 DUI's were prosecuted. Meaning, about 4,159 cases are dismissed. What's the racial demographics of all those cases? It's never published.

And crime must be contextualized within a 40-year Drug War. This war is patrolled and prosecuted along racial lines. Incarceration rates are heavily influenced by the bias of police, prosecutors, and judges display while "fighting the drug war." As explained by many readers here, equating "getting high" with "a crime" depends if you are a U of I student or a poor minority- a sales rep for Anheiser-Busch or a heroin [poppy] grower in Afghanistan.

Using crime stats to form racial stereotypes could just as easily be used to form stereotypes about the choices police, prosecutors, and judges make. Those kind of "punks" "always get away with it," too- to quote a certain neighborhood watch volunteer.

TruthMatters wrote on July 21, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Not every African American living in the Champaign-Urbana area feels the same way Carol and Aaron Ammons feel. Many are starting to feel that what they continue to preach is only going to further segregate the African-American population from the rest of the community and give the rest of the community no reason to make any effort to help the African-American community when black on black crime occurs. It is unfortunate that the speakers at this rally were preaching a mentality that in itself is racist. My friend and I wanted to leave early. We are in total disagreement to what many of the speakers said. 

We had our own gathering over the 4th of July. Many of the African-Americans who attended the gathering believe it is time for accountability from each individual not the African-American community as a whole. We will do what we should do to protect our families. That's not joining a gang. It's not buying a gun. It's certainly not rising up with the Jackson and Sharpton type soapboxers in this town. I'm went back to college last year. That's how I'm going to take care of my young one.

I have a job while I go to school. So does my friend who is a felon. Yes, it was hard for him to get a job, but he said it best. He doesn't have time to complain about being a victim because of discrimination against those with criminal backgrounds. Instead he used his time to sell himself to companies and show them that he was worth hiring. He has a good job at the U of I doing what he loves to do. He is even thinking about going back to school. 

What I want to point out about my life and his is that we did this ON OUR OWN. We didn't have the NAACP holding our hands. We didn't have any of these speakers helping us enroll in school or fill out applications. We take responsibility for ourselves. No one can take that from us. I have white friends who congratulated me for doing what I've done, on my own, for myself. 

When my young one gets older I hope to God he never gets mixed up with people like the ones in this article. I can't imagine what I would say if he came home and told me that putting a gun in a white man's hand automatically means he's got a bulleye's on his back. Are you kidding me with that talk? Shame on all ya'll for promoting such destructive thinking! 

Molly1 wrote on July 22, 2013 at 9:07 am

Wonderful Post!!

I congratulate you both on your hard work and efforts at making things work for you.

I wish that there were more people like you.   Not just African Americans, but Whites, Hispanics, any nationality, religion, or race.

Life takes hard work, education, and dedication to get through it. 

Too many people of all races and creeds in today's world are just looking for a handout, I'm happy that there are still those of us that are willing to break a sweat, and put in the time and effort to accomplish our goals, and hopefully in the process make the world a better place for ourselves, our families, and those around us.

Shay wrote on July 22, 2013 at 6:07 pm


Good to hear things are working out for you. Sometimes the truth is hard to believe or except. I bet when people were screaming that they were using black men to expericment with syphilis folks said shame on you too for believing that. Or, when they stole Henrietta Lacks' blood and didn't give her family a dime, well, that couldn't be true.  Crack at epidemic levels in the Black community. Iran Contra anyone? Deny all you want but the truth will set you free. I've watched and tracked the beginning of these laws (concealed-weapons, Stand-your-Ground) for over 15 years. Yoiu have to look at who's passing them and why. Look past the obvious, 2nd amendment rights, tyrannical government, etc for insight into the real reason. You better believe it is not about the aforementioned reasons. Everyone should be afraid of what is happening with these insane laws. It is fine if you don't want to believe their genisis, but you better fight their consequences. You should not want to send you kids out in a world where you can kill and not be held accountable.

As for Sharpton and Jackson, thank God for people like them. Call them what you want. They may not be perfect but they are better than most.


bluegrass wrote on July 23, 2013 at 2:07 pm

I've watched and tracked the beginning of these laws (concealed-weapons, Stand-your-Ground) for over 15 years. Yoiu have to look at who's passing them and why.

I wish our president would take real questions from the press.  You think anyone would ask him why he co-sponsored this bill in the IL Senate?

Shay wrote on July 27, 2013 at 11:07 am

Is referencing the Presidents name and apparently stupidity suppose to make me change my mind on these laws or something? He won't be the first person, presidents or not, dupped by the racist antics of an American system design to maintain white supremacy. If he did as you say then he was a fool.

sweet caroline wrote on July 22, 2013 at 9:07 am

Bravo, TruthMatters!  You speak for more than just a few African American citizens.  You're working diligently at trying to eradicate the stereotype that the Al Sharptons of this country want everyone to keep believing. 

Dr. Carol Swain says it all in this morning's CNN interview:


cretis16 wrote on July 22, 2013 at 4:07 pm

Thank you George Zimmerman  for rescuing 4 people including children from the horrific traffic accident last Wednesday.....a rescue conviently left from the national media.

Bulldogmojo wrote on July 25, 2013 at 11:07 am

Cretis how are you getting your news, morse code? It was all over the news about how he was the 5th guy on the scene. I am amazed George Zimmerman didn't shoot them because when you are upside down in your car your hoodie is actually up.  I also heard he replaced the toilet paper after he used the last of the roll. If you see only one set of foot prints remember it was because george Zimmerman was carrrying you.



Local Yocal wrote on July 23, 2013 at 12:07 pm
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If anyone would like to talk to Carol and Aaron Ammons directly about their views; they have a radio talk show on 90.1 FM from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings where callers can call-in (without a screener) and discuss whatever they want. From the commentary above, it appears somebody needs to enlighten the Ammons' lest our children get mixed up with these people.

Local Yocal wrote on July 27, 2013 at 6:07 am
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The marches against violence in Chicago have been numerous. The mayor and other politicians are huddling up in an "emergency summit" this very week. There has been an entire documentary on the subject by the film makers that did Hoop Dreams, called The Interrupters, about the efforts of former gang members who formed Cease Fire Chicago. For years they have been directly intervening on potential problems without weapons, one person at a time.  The documentary goes into detail how difficult this job is.

When the film was shown here in Champaign, one of the "stars" of the film was here to talk about the situation with the audience.

Ironically, PBS aired the documentary days before Treyvon Martin was killed.