Diverse crowd rallies in wake of Florida shooting
MANCHESTER — People of different races joined forces for a rally and march Saturday protesting the fact that a mixed white-Hispanic man has not been arrested for shooting an unarmed black teenager in Florida last month.
';For me, I don't look at it as a black or white issue, but what is right,'; said Tureka Chapman, who has been the target of a racial slur since moving from North Carolina to Manchester a year or so ago. ';Right is right; wrong is wrong.';
Chapman, who is African-American, her fiance and two young sons joined about 75 others for the rally at Veterans Memorial Park.
';I think today's message is injustice for anybody is injustice for everybody,'; said co-organizer Woullard Lett of Manchester.
In Sanford, Fla., George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain, acknowledged shooting Trayvon Martin after Zimmerman reported a suspicious person and followed him. Zimmerman hasn't been charged in the shooting.
Carol Backus of Manchester remembers growing up as a white girl in segregated Mississippi in the 1940s.
';I thought I had outlived this thing,'; she said, referring to racism. ';I am so shocked and so appalled this could still happen.';
Co-organizer Mark Provost said he hopes a larger event with 10 times as many people can be held in the next month. Provost has organized some Occupy NH protests, but said this was not an Occupy event. A posting on Facebook advertised the rally.
In addressing the crowd, Provost said: ';Many of us have been silent for too long.';
More than 15 people spoke out, recalling how the Florida case affected them or offering its potential broader implications.
C.J. Perez, a football coach with the Manchester East Cobras, said people of different races need to consider themselves members of the same society with shared interests and struggles.
';If somebody moves into our community, I barbecue and bring food over,'; Perez said. ';I don't want them to be afraid.';
Curtis Smith, a retired administrator from Southern New Hampshire University, recalled protesting for black civil rights as a graduate student at Syracuse University in 1962.
';Off and on, I've been trying to protest injustice for 50 years,'; said Smith, who is white and retired in 2008. ';I could be perfecting my golf swing, but that's not what life is about.';
Manchester physician Sarah Alier, a refugee from Sudan who resettled in New Hampshire in 1999, said she is in the United States because of war.
';The war took everything from me. Took away my dreams,'; she said. ';What's a war? One angry person'; who spreads anger to more people.
She urged that the violence stop. ';Do not destroy the world, please,'; Alier said.
Richard Komi, a former refugee from the Republic of Benin in Africa, said Zimmerman needs to face trial.
';We should not try this case in the court of public opinion,'; Komi said. ';Mr. Zimmerman needs to answer for his actions (in court).';