1.7M sign Trayvon Martin petitions
WASHINGTON — NAACP President Ben Jealous said on Monday his organization collected petitions with more than 1.7 million signatures calling for charges to be filed against George Zimmerman for violating Trayvon Martin's civil rights.
Jealous said the signatures, about a million of which came in by mobile phone and many from young people, would be turned over to the Department of Justice.
The NAACP signatures would be in addition to 219,000 handed over to the Justice Department last week by ColorOfChange, an online civil rights group.
Jealous cited the petitions as an example of the advocacy in which the NAACP and others have engaged since Zimmerman was acquitted by a Florida court in the shooting death of Martin, 17, on Feb. 26, 2012. The teenager's death has become symbolic to many of continued unequal treatment of blacks and other minorities despite progress on segregation and racial discrimination since the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.
A Justice Department spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment or independently confirm receipt of the signatures.
Martin was mentioned often by speakers at Saturday's demonstration marking the 50th anniversary of the march. Martin's mother was among the speakers. Images of the teenager were on T-shirts, posters, signs and buttons.
“The most important thing for all of us ... is to get organized,” Jealous said during a panel sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation as part of its America Healing project, which seeks to promote racial healing and address racial inequity by funding groups working on those issues.
“I often tell people I don't care whether they join the NAACP or some other group, but you better join something,” Jealous said. “Because the reality is in a democracy there are only two types of power. There's organized people and organized money, and organized money only wins when people aren't organized.”
On Wednesday, President Obama will be joined by former Presidents Clinton and Carter for a ceremony commemorating the march and Martin Luther King Jr.'s “I Have A Dream” speech.