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Emotional South Norwalk crowd calls for justice after Trayvon verdict

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Members of Calvary Baptist Church and other Norwalk residents march to protest the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case Sunday in South Norwalk.

NORWALK, Conn. – George Zimmerman’s gun license, the history of black Americans and the need to unite were among the topics of speeches given Sunday in front of Norwalk Police headquarters to about 70 people who had walked several blocks to get there, carrying signs and chanting about justice.

The march and rally were inspired by the “not guilty” verdict awarded to Zimmerman in the Sanford, Fla., death of Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old from Miami who was walking through Zimmerman’s neighborhood at night in the rain.

(Story continues after video.)

“No matter what, we must stand for justice,” said the Rev. Nellie Mann, who organized the event. “Laws must be changed. They must be changed. Because one child is murdered, it affects all of us. It affects each one of us.”

Others spoke of the emotions stirred in the African-American community.

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Attorney Darnell Crosland, president of the Norwalk branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), speaks Sunday at Norwalk Police headquarters. “There’s a lot of talk about Zimmerman getting his weapon back,” he said. “What is that all about?”

Attorney Darnell Crosland, president of the Norwalk branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), referred to comments made by President Barack Obama this week.

“The president makes it clear that this particular verdict affects all us, black and white, but it affects black people in a specifically sensitive way because of the history that we face in discrimination and injustices,” he said. “I also like to highlight the fact that this particular month has been a trying one for black people. We just got a setback, the voting rights act. … then the verdict comes right behind that. That’s a lot to take. So let’s put this in context.”

Crosland said he had been in Sanford and had gone into the courtroom right after the verdict was announced. He spoke with anger, saying that he had been involved in murder trials and never seen ballistics and evidence like that in the Zimmerman trial.

“Never have I seen it like that,” he said. “The gun was actually on his chest.”

Zimmerman might have had a license to have a gun, he said, but he didn’t have a license to use a gun to protect a neighborhood. That kind of license is reserved for police officers, he said.

“Zimmerman wasn’t trained,” he said. “If you’re walking through a neighborhood with a pistol, you’re supposed to be only protecting yourself, not protecting your neighborhood with your unlicensed gun. Unlicensed because of the use. It’s not because he didn’t have a license. The use was unlicensed. You can’t walk through a neighborhood protecting the neighborhood with an unlicensed gun. That’s not what that’s for. … For that reason alone we need the federal justice government to take that gun away.”

He also defended the right of African-Americans to be upset about the verdict.

“Make no mistake about this, don’t let anyone make the nonsensical argument that because we have challenges in our own community that we’re not supposed to get upset about the Zimmerman verdict,” he said. “It’s just as nonsensical as people who make the argument that there’s no more racial issues in our community because we have a black president.”

The Rev. Jeffry Ingraham spoke of solutions, of doing things to help young people. A free summer enrichment program is being held from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday this week and next in Ryan Park, he said. For information on the free NEON-sponsored program, call 203-853-4139. Summer enrichment program

Sherelle Harris spoke of the context for the emotional outcry.

“On the one hand, I say we can’t use history as an excuse to stay where we are, but on the other hand, no one has the right to ask black people to deny their history,” she said. “Let us look at the history of the slave ships, the history of the civil war and the history of the civil rights movement. Let us reason why we are standing here today. … This is not a one-sided racial issue, there are things that need to be corrected on all sides.”

Two Norwalk Democratic mayoral candidates appeared at the event. Former Norwalk Police Chief Harry Rilling was at Calvary Baptist Church, where the march began, before leaving to make it to a prior commitment, organizers said. District D Chairman Vinny Mangiacopra spoke to the crowd at the police station, referring to his childhood in New Haven.

“It’s about time that all of us have an opportunity to succeed,” he said. “It’s about time that all of us have an opportunity to grow up from wearing the baggy jeans, and have people around us who love us forever.”

He took note that it might have been politically risky, given the controversy involved, but he said he felt he had to be there.

“If you feel that you represent the entire community, you should be willing to stand up and state your opinion out there,” he said after the rally. “Norwalk is a very diverse community and emotions are high. Community leaders in our community organized this event and I was happy to be out here today.”

10 comments

Ken P Jr July 22, 2013 at 8:44 am

So they protest justice while asking for it? Maybe if they stopped sticking up for violent criminals the people who look up to them would be less inclined towards violence & we would stop seeing so many young black people in trouble. You reap what you sow & protesting in favor of a young man who was proven to have attacked an innocent man is NOT sowing seeds of peace. Even if it gets votes & community support.

M Allen July 22, 2013 at 8:49 am

How many things can you even begin to comment on in this article? Just in the pictures alone you have Vinny standing in front of some very angry looking people. Not a good campaign picture Vin. Then you have Anna Duleep looking the fool and wearing a hoodie. It’s not about hoodies or skittles Anna. But at least the heat wave was over by Sunday, giving you a chance to don your costume in relative comfort.

— As for the comments by some of the speakers, well, Vinny seems to think baggy jeans are the major issue. Is he profiling people with baggy jeans? Oh my.

— Crosland is an attorney? He needs to work on his legal analysis because it is highly flawed. I’m sure it sounded better to the assembled crowd, which is really all that matters, but highly flawed. Zimmerman’s posession of the gun was licensed, but not his use when being assaulted. He does realize the jury did in fact say it was licensed, didn’t he? Or was he not providing a legal analysis of the facts. Perhaps he was just making banter with the crowd to get the heads nodding.

M Allen July 22, 2013 at 8:56 am

I want to hear more from Sherelle Harris. She seems to be the only one who is willing to say that there are issues that need addressing on both sides.

TLawton July 22, 2013 at 9:18 am

Is there anything this Mangiacopra clown won’t do for a vote? Seriously. Norwalkers will rue the day this child is our Mayor.

D(ysfunctional)TC July 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm

Vinny Bag O Pants. Whats up with the new accent? Funny, when you are in 06851 you sound a lot different. You sound a lot different at sea level. Good luck with the signatures.

Norwalk Spectator July 22, 2013 at 1:52 pm

“No matter what, we must stand for justice,” said the Rev. Nellie Mann, who organized the event. “Laws must be changed. They must be changed. Because one child is murdered, it affects all of us. It affects each one of us.”

********************************

Hello. My name was Antonio West. Don’t recognize my name? That’s OK; I understand.I was the 13-month old child who was shot in the face at point blank range by two black teens, who were attempting to rob my mother, who was also shot. I think my murder and my mommy’s wounding made the news for maybe a day, and then disappeared.

A Grand Jury of my mommy’s peers from Brunswick, Georgia ruled the black teens who murdered me will not face the death penalty… too bad it was me who got the death sentence from my killers instead, because Mommy didn’t have the money they demanded. See, my family made the mistake of being white in a 73% non-white neighborhood, but my murder wasn’t ruled a ‘hate crime’.

Oh, and President Obama didn’t take a single moment to acknowledge my murder. He couldn’t have any children who could possibly look like me – so why should he care?

I’m one of the youngest murder victims in our great Nation’s history, but the media didn’t care to cover the story of my being killed in cold blood.

There isn’t a white equivalent of Al Sharpton, because if there was he would be branded a ‘racist’. So no one’s rushing to Brunswick, Georgia to demonstrate and demand ‘justice’ for me. There’s no ‘White Panther’ party, either, to put a bounty on the lives of the two black teens who murdered me.

I have no voice, I have no representation, and unlike those who shot me in the face while I sat innocently in my stroller – I no longer have my life.

Isn’t this a great country?

So while you’re out seeking ‘justice for Trayvon, please remember to seek ‘justice’ for me. Tell your friends about me, tell your families, get tee-shirts with my face on them, and make the world pay attention, just like you did for Trayvon.

I won’t hold my breath. I don’t have to anymore.

(Editor’s note: The above text after the asterisks is from something being circulated around the Internet. For a news account of the murder, and comments on the above from snopes.com, click this link: http://www.snopes.com/politics/crime/antoniowest.asp)

M Allen July 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm

Interestingly, the ACLU has officially retracted its support of a federal civil rights case against Mr. Zimmerman on the grounds that it is double jeopardy.

RU4REAL July 22, 2013 at 7:07 pm

Norwalk Spectator,
You just read and posted the part that supported your position, huh?
The circumstances we’re different in these tragedies, which was obvious.

LWitherspoon July 22, 2013 at 9:15 pm

@DysTC
Excellent question. Why is Mr. Mangiacopra speaking with a completely different accent than he used in his campaign launch?
.
Watch the video above. Then watch Mangiacopra’s campaign kickoff event here:
.
http://www.norwalksfuturenow.com/meet-vinny/video/
.
What gives, Vinny? That’s downright offensive to everyone, but particularly so to the African-American community.

Norwalk Spectator July 22, 2013 at 9:42 pm

To RU4Real,

I read the entire article, Real. Rev. Mann made a statement about if one child is murdered, the laws must be changed because it affects everyone. It doesn’t get any clearer than that. So, I want to know why there were no marches, why there were no protests for that murdered child? Different circumstances you say? Well, how about this one?

A Chicago man charged with murdering 6-month-old Jonylah Watkins as her father was changing her diaper will be back in court today for a status hearing.

Koman Willis, who pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and aggravated murder, is believed to have committed the March 2013 murder in retaliation for a burglary the baby’s father allegedly committed at Willis’s mother’s house. One of the items taken was a PlayStation video game console.

Willis maintains that the baby was not his intended target, and will be ineligible for the death penalty in Illinois, where it has been outlawed.

This past weekend, six people were killed and 21 injured in Chicago, including a little girl who was playing on her scooter while attending a memorial service for a man who was killed five years ago while sitting on his front porch.

Local crime blogger “Second City Cop” wrote about the little girl’s murder, along with the wounding of her aunt, calling for more police presence and less talk from the city, writing:

Just riding her bike, catches a bullet through-and-through her chest.

We wonder where she fell on the “heat list.” Maybe instead of making tenuous connections between assholes who probably deserve to get shot and drafting letters to them, the community ought to demand fewer “more with less” speeches and a couple more “hire police” commitments.

President Obama, who has continued to weigh in against gun violence, when it comes to the death of Trayvon Martin, stating over the weekend, Trayvon, “could have been me,” has remained largely silent regarding the ongoing war-zone that plagues Chicago’s mostly black and poorer urban communities.

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