A candlelight vigil in a theme of “Justice for Trayvon Martin” takes place Mar. 27 at the College of Charleston.
Set to start at sundown, the vigil should begin about 7:30 p.m. at Cistern Yard, which is accessible from 66 George St.
Matt Rabon of Charleston says he’s organizing the event “just as a matter of decency and human empathy.”
Martin, a 17-year-old African American, was fatally shot as he walked through a gated Sanford, Fla. neighborhood on the evening of Feb. 26. Shooter George Zimmerman followed Martin, telling 911 operators on multiple calls he was “suspicious,” and told police that evening his shot was only in self-defense.
Martin was unarmed, however, and the neighborhood was that of his father’s girlfriend, which he’d frequented.
Despite consistent changes in his statements, despite witness statements to the contrary, and despite continuously developing evidence that infers racism on the parts of both him and Sanford police, Zimmerman has never been charged for this slaying.
Sadly, circumstances like this are common here in the Lowcountry, too, says Rabon. “The shooting of Asberry Wylder comes to mind as an example,” he offers.
In November 2003 Wylder – mentally-ill and suspected of shoplifting – was fatally wounded by six North Charleston police officers who drew their weapons when he displayed a knife. He was shot twice, once after the Africa-American was handcuffed, one witness said. Wylder died shortly after.
Wrongful death charges against the officers were dismissed following a case described by local NAACP president Dorothy Scott to indicate “how unjust our justice system is when matters of African Americans are concerned.”
As his distaste for the tragedy deepened to disgust, Rabon thought someone from somewhere in the local community must surely be organizing some type of demonstration. Unable to find any, he knew he’d have to create his own.
“I basically just looked around online to see if anyone was organizing something for people to participate in locally, something to give people a chance to express their sadness and outrage in public,” he says.
“I didn't see anything, so I started doing it myself. I just felt like it was important.”
Rabon hopes many will attend, especially ones who could lend some Lowcountry insight on the topic. “I bet there are lots of local people who could speak to this issue a lot more knowledgeably than myself.”
All in the community are invited to participate in next Tuesday’s vigil, and attendees can RSVP on Facebook.