Vigil planned in memory of Trayvon Martin

Jul. 19, 2013 @ 05:01 AM

Following a string of protests around the country, a local group is organizing a vigil in memory of Trayvon Martin this Saturday night.

Workers for Clean Water, which originated as an anti-fracking group, is holding the vigil from 5-6 p.m. at Sanford’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, located at the corner of Horner Boulevard and Washington Avenue.

Reginald Victor Marsh Jr., one of the organizers, said that just because the case in question happened in Florida — ending in the acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old black teenager Trayvon Martin — that doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen here.

“The outcome of [Zimmerman’s trial] was disappointing, very disappointing,” Marsh said. “It’s kind of like a wake-up call. Trayvon Martin got shot — was killed — based on assumption.

“I’m around the community a lot,” he continued. “And we sometimes have assumptions about anybody, whether they dress a certain way, look a certain way. ... Things like that happen a lot — and it’s sad.”

Janeth Benitez, one of the founders of Workers for Clean Water, said the group has been extolling progressive causes other than just fracking opposition, including sending a delegation to Moral Monday protests in Raleigh. She said this vigil is needed because racial profiling is a problem everywhere.

Marsh said Saturday’s vigil is all about encouraging locals, regardless of race or ethnicity, to treat one another with respect.

“[The goal is] to have the opportunity to reach out to people and for people to come together, express their voice about how we can make Sanford a better community,” he said. “... Be more of what the word ‘community’ stands for instead of just taking it for granted.”

Benitez said she hopes it will make people aware that they can speak out for themselves when they feel oppressed or stereotyped.

“It has to stop, and people need to be aware it’s going on,” she said. “Just because you’re used to it doesn’t mean it’s OK.”