By Beth Clayton
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY–Last week, hundreds marched in rallies in Birmingham and Montgomery to protest the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case and support changing “stand your ground” laws and taking a more serious approach to reducing violence.
The rallies in front of federal courthouses in more than 101 cities across the country are demanding that US Attorney General Eric Holder bring civil rights charges against Zimmerman.
There were two marches in Montgomery, one of which included about 500 activists carrying signs and chanting “Justice for Trayvon” as part of the National Action Network’s 100 City Vigil.
Among the crowd were Pastor Kenneth Sharpton Glasgow, the brother of Reverend Al Sharpton and Representative Thad McClammy (D-Montgomery). The march proceeded down Dexter Avenue in front of the Frank Johnson Federal Courthouse.
In Birmingham, more than 500 protestors met at Kelly Ingram Park for the “Missing Trayvon Benjamin Martin” rally. Protesters marched in front of the Hugo Black Justice Center and stopped at Birmingham City Hall for a program.
The Birmingham rally was lead by Sheila Tyson of the National Action Network, Frank Matthew of Outcasst Voters, Hezekiah Jackson IV of the NAACP and Bishop Calvin Woods with the SCLC.
In Tuscaloosa, a rally was held at 7:30 at Stillman College hosted by the Tuscaloosa NAACP.
In Montgomery, Representative Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery) spoke at a separate rally that was not organized in conjunction with the National Action Network.
“Yes it’s a race issue,” Holmes said at the ‘I am Trayvon’ rally. “Zimmerman saw a black man at night and shot him.” Holmes says that he will continue to protest until civil rights charges are brought against Zimmerman.
Despite the protests, Charles Barkley, an Alabama native, former Auburn and NBA basketball player and Space Jam star, is speaking out, saying the jury was right to acquit Zimmerman.
Barkley said that “something clearly went wrong that night,” but he didn’t think there was enough evidence to convict Zimmerman.
“It gives every white person and black person, who’s racist, a platform to vent their ignorance. That’s the thing that bothered me the most,” Barkley said.
Representative Holmes says another protest is planned for Monday at 6:30 at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church.