Candlelight vigil held for Trayvon Martin in Pittsfield


PHOTO GALLERY | Trayvon Martin vigil held in Pittsfield.

PITTSFIELD -- Residents quietly took their turn in a nationwide protest Wednesday in Park Square, where they gathered for a candlelight vigil in honor of slain Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

"If it was my brother I would feel the same as Trayvon's brother -- I'd miss him," said 13-year-old Krystal Levey, who attended the evening ceremony with her grandmother, Shirley Burbridge.

Burbridge spoke of George Zimmerman, the 29-year-old man who shot Martin to death in Sanford, Fla., last year and whose acquittal Saturday caused outrage in cities all over the country -- from Times Square in New York City to Oakland, Calif. -- this week.

"[Zimmerman was] a wannabe cop that took it too far," she said. "There was no need to kill that kid."

Some of the roughly 60 people who turned out on Wednesday held aloft handmade signs and clutched bags of Skittles -- the candy found on the teen the night he was killed, Feb. 26, 2012.

The crowd circled the park and met in the middle, waiting to light their candles until the right moment: 7:17 p.m.

"Today's date is seven-seventeen. [Martin] died at 7:17 p.m. We just want to light these candles for him and simply take a minute to think," said Toby Clayton, who organized the demonstration with his wife, Lisa. The two have a 17-year-old son -- the same age Martin was when he died.

Clayton said he wanted to "do as the Martin family asked: protest peacefully," in organizing the demonstration. The only turbulence came before the demonstration, when one resident arrived and began shouting at those who'd organized it. He claimed Martin was a "thug" who "got what he deserved."

No one there at the time agreed, including Pete Wilson, of Great Barrington, and Hazel Scott, of Pittsfield, who shared a bench.

"I think it's great that there's some attention that's being given to this," Wilson said, as people began arriving. "It's just a shame why we're here. I hope I don't have to come to another."

Scott said he was dumbfounded by Saturday's verdict, which cleared Zimmerman of all charges.

"I think it was the wrong verdict," she said. "I wish I was in that jury. Don't get me started."

Martin was unarmed when Zimmerman shot him during an altercation between the two. Zimmerman's lawyers argued that their client acted in self-defense.

With their candles lit, participants recited the Lord's Prayer in the park and walked its perimeter several more times before departing.

Public outrage and calls for civil suits and a federal investigation still hang over Zimmerman's head, pushed by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other civil rights activists. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., said Monday that he opposes the so-called "stand your ground" law that proved key in Zimmerman's acquittal.

To reach Phil Demers,,
or (413) 496-6214.
On Twitter: @BE_PhilD


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions