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‘Justice for Trayvon’ rally draws hundreds to downtown Buffalo

Many were frustrated and upset.

Some were reinvigorated to make a change.

Others just want the violence to end.

All those emotions came pouring out Saturday at Niagara Square, where several hundred people attended a vigil and rally for Trayvon Martin, just a week after a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of the unarmed teen.

It was one of 100 or more “Justice for Trayvon” rallies held Saturday in cities across the nation to show the dissatisfaction, not just with this case, but with larger issues of race in America.

“We’re here today to make a difference,” said Rev. Gregory Nelson, president of the Buffalo-Niagara Chapter of the National Action Network, which organized the nationwide vigils. “We’re here today to send a message.

“ Amen?”

“Amen,” the crowd responded.

The rally included remarks from local political leaders, community activists and pastors, who prayed for Trayvon’s family.

Many in the crowd were still in disbelief about the case. Kurt Johnson wore a shirt that read “I am Trayvon Martin.”

“It could definitely happen to me,” said Johnson, 51, of Buffalo.“It gives you pause to do a little soul searching. That could be me.”

Many of the concerns from the speakers, and those in the crowd, addressed the problem of racial profiling in the black community.

“A lot of young black men go through the same thing,” said Latonya Prim-Foster, one of those who attended the rally in front of City Hall, “and being quiet is not going to break that cycle. We have to rally and have a voice.”

Some of those in attendance held signs, such as “Trayvon: Am I next?” and “Neighborhood Watch: You don’t use a gun to watch. Stop racial profiling.”

“We need our young black men not to be profiled and be ‘Trayvoned’ ” said Donald Frazier, 37, of Buffalo, who said he has been a victim of racial profiling himself. “We want it to end.”

The crowd was largely composed of African-Americans, but included whites, too.

“I’m proud of Buffalo. Look at the crowd here,” Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant said to those in attendance. “Guess what? There are many Trayvon Martins in Buffalo. Let’s help save their lives.”

Others who attended the rally Saturday see the Trayvon Martin case as a wake-up call and an opportunity for the community to unite.

“It was a call of action to really be a presence to our young black boys in the community,” said Jamil Crews, 32, of Buffalo.

“What happens to one of us happens to all of us as a community,” said Darnell Harwell, 33, of Buffalo. “It’s sad Trayvon had to go through that for everyone to notice.”