"They found that man who killed that kid in Florida not guilty," my roommate said.
"What the FUCK? Isn't someone dead?"
The news of Trayvon's injustice did not settle til I got home and began reading Facebook and Twitter on my laptop. A friend from Houston posted she was at Razoo's when the news announced the verdict. White people at the bar whooped in celebration, while one black lady stormed off to the back of the room. The anger spread from my throat like food poisoning. My insatiable desire to read everything related to the case fanned that rage. While consuming the reactions, I received an invitation to a 3-hour silent protest in Union Square the following day from 3 to 6pm from my friend Dominique. After the silence, would be a rally and march to express the sorrow, frustration and anger at the state's failure to protect and provide recompense for the murder of a 17-year-old boy who committed no crime.
It was 90 degrees outside but that didn't stop us from donning our black hoodies and joining the circle of reticence. People came and went. The circle widened and contracted as strangers grasped hands and reflected on tragedy. As the hours changed and the heat penetrated our black clothes, the circle felt full, full like church on Easter Sunday.
Phones and cameras flashed in between connected figures. It was a media watering hole. Shining faces stopped to thank Dom for organizing the observance that proved an accessible way to communicate solidarity and express grief. By the third hour of silence, Union Square was thick with bodies. Crowds formed around the folks with bullhorns: Occupy folks, politicians, grassroots organizers and lots of young people.
The march that followed was more of a natural convulsion of rage. The crowds as wide as the street snaked south from Union Square hooking around the Lower East Side and returning North with the full force of a charging army. The goal was Times Square-- to show the tourist suburbanite townies, hopefully some Florida conservatives, how the fuck we felt about the Zimmerman verdict. The police attempted to halt us, to trap us by Penn Station, but there was no budging. The apathetic masses sheltered in their cabs were caught in a chanting gridlock. The police didn't have a choice but to let us through. My blistered feet brought me to the cocky luminescence of Times Square and for once I greeted it, greeted it with a sunburned face.
And the tourists stared. They stared puzzled and dismayed, open-mouthed and fascinated. From the tops of open roof buses, from the Olive Gardens and TGIFridays, from under the campy glitz of corporate ad glamour, they stared. They stared with a camera at their chin and a fanny pack at their gut. We chanted his name and we projected his picture in retort. THIS. THIS is why.
On my retreat to the subway, I heard a woman explaining to her little girl, "Honey, it's because I don't agree with what they're saying."
What do I do you ask? I lift my sign higher and ask myself, what's next? What do we do to prevent another Zimmerman? What about the opposition-- the opposition that's on my facebook feed? The shameless white people who express their apathy toward the case? What about all those that deny a racial component to the murder? And the hate? What about the people who want to buy Zimmerman a new gun?
In the following days of the verdict and nationwide protests, I felt compelled to discuss the matter in any possible way. I even found myself trapped in a two hour conversation with commenters on a YouTube video. First time in my life.
The common excuse for apathy is that in a few days everyone will have forgotten. I disagree. I drown out those defeatists.