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Sandy Trask, 10, from Tamworth, holds a sign with his mom, Laura, during a protest for Trayvon Martin case on Saturday at Veterans Park in Manchester. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

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).&#';


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