Many support, many oppose, Saturday's 'Justice for Trayvon' Rallies

12:58 AM, Jul 20, 2013   |    comments
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Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, telling reporters he supports keeping the state's Stand Your Ground law as it is.

ATLANTA -- More than 100 "Justice for Trayvon" rallies are scheduled to take place on Saturday across the country, including in downtown Atlanta.

The Atlanta rally begins at Noon outside the Richard B. Russell Federal Building on Spring Street for people who object to the Not Guilty verdict that George Zimmerman received.

They will be showing their support for what they believe the government, and the nation, need to do next.

Atlanta rally organizers met in private Friday night at Ebenezer Baptist Church with Atlanta police, and with representatives of other law enforcement agencies, to complete their plans for what they believe will be large crowds at Saturday's event, just as there were for the protest march in Atlanta earlier in the week.

First, they want the Justice Department to charge George Zimmerman with violating Trayvon Martin's civil rights.

"The Justice Department must deliver justice to Trayvon Martin's family and to the rest of the nation," said the Rev. Markel Hutchins.

And they also want the state legislature to re-write Georgia's "Stand Your Ground" law next year. They believe the law should more precisely define what is, and what is not, justifiable homicide, in order, they say, to prevent confusion.

"Our Stand Your Ground law in the State of Georgia is no better than the one in the State of Florida," said the Rev. Raphael Warnock.

"Now is the time to take a serious look at these Stand Your Ground laws all around the country," Warnock said.  "And we don't have to wait until we have a Trayvon Martin case here to address this issue. We've seen the tragic implications of this kind of vision of society, of 'every man, every woman, for him or herself.' And we need to correct this while we have time. I think the Stand Your Ground law is not about self-defense. I think that it is a part of the whole marketing plan of the gun lobby. It tries to correct something that did not need to be fixed, the notion of self-defense has always been a part of our republic. But the Stand Your Ground laws go a step further. And you could see that in the confusion around this case, even as the jury tried to make sense out of whether or not Mr. Zimmerman's actions were justified or not. And so rather than have more cases like this, we ought to be pro-active and straighten this out while we can."

But Georgia Governor Nathan Deal told reporters earlier in the week that he supports Georgia's Stand Your Ground law just as it is.

"I do not see any reason to change it, but there again, that is the will of the General Assembly that will prevail on that issue," the Governor said. "I'm fairly certain that there will be somebody in the General Assembly who will ask us to, at least, revisit and look at the Stand Your Ground legislation that was passed in 2006. I do not see anything out of the ordinary in terms of that statute. It is very similar to the statute in other states, including the State of Florida. It would be an issue that would be very emotionally charged if it comes before the General Assembly."

Even as the protest rallies take place across the country, there is widespread support for the verdict and widespread opposition to the protest rallies.

"I agree with the verdict," Former NBA star Charles Barkley said during an interview on CNBC on Thursday.

"I feel sorry that young kid got killed," Barkley said.  "But they didn't have enough evidence to charge [Zimmerman]. Something clearly went wrong that night. Clearly something went wrong and I feel bad for anybody who loses a kid.... There was some racial profiling, no question about it. But something happened to change the dynamic of that night. And that's probably not a popular opinion among most people. But just looking at the evidence, I agree with the verdict.... The main thing I feel bad for is it gives every white person and black person who's racist a platform to vent their ignorance. That's the thing that bothered me the most. I watched this trial closely and I watched all these people on television talking about it. A lot of these people have a hidden agenda. They want to have their racist views, whether they are white or black. Their biases definitely come out. It was a bad situation. We all lost."

Atlanta police and MARTA police and the rally organizers are urging everyone who wants to participate in the rally to arrive early, and to use MARTA. The closest rail station is CNN Center.

"We're expecting tomorrow to be a powerful day," Rev. Hutchins said. "We encourage people of every color, every race, every religion, every orientation, to join us, because it's going to be a powerful, powerful witness of unity."

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