Following Wednesday’s “Million Hoodie March” for Trayvon Martin — the Florida 17-year-old who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in February — one New York church is asking people to wear hoodies to service Sunday. “Come to our multiracial/multicultural community, Middle Church, on Sunday; wear your hoodie and plan to pray for healing,” Senior Minister Jacqui Lewis wrote on her blog on the Middle Collegiate Church’s website. The hoodie has become a symbol of the racial profiling at the center of the uproar surrounding the case. Martin, a black man, was wearing one when he was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer who had described Martin has suspicious in a 911 call.
The same day Geraldo Rivera essentially supported the stereotyping by saying that he believes “the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Basketball star Lebron James tweeted a picture of himself and his Miami Heat teammates wearing hoodies and standing in a solemn pose to honor Martin.
In fact, the case has become filled with symbols. Runnin’ Scared noted that bags Skittles were used to remind the crowd Wednesday that Martin was unarmed when he was shot.
The Middle Collegiate service Sunday will also feature music written for Martin and Lewis’ sermon, which she calls a “call to action.” In the blog post she wrote:
We have to fix this; we have to address the ways racism in these United States is like a virus that mutates and continues to infect us. Our children are not born to hate nor are they born with fear. But adults who have the virus can harm them, and children can catch the virus, too.
It can feel overwhelming, addressing racism, but we have to do it.
We reached out to Lewis to see if we can hear more, and we’ll update if we hear back.
In a new development in the Martin case, the lawyer for George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin, said Florida’s Stand Your Ground law was “not really applicable to this case,’ according to CNN. One of the focuses in the outrage over Martin’s death has been the fact that Zimmerman has not been arrested. Stand Your Ground — which allows people to retaliate to a perceived grave threat with deadly force — has been used to explain why Zimmerman has not been charged.
“The statute on ‘stand your ground’ is primarily when you’re in your house,” the lawyer, Craig Sonner, said. “This is self-defense, and that’s been around for forever — that you have a right to defend yourself. So the next issue (that) is going to come up is, was he justified in using the amount of force he did?”
Florida Governor Rick Scott created a task force to examine the law, a decision which President Barack Obama commended yesterday.
Update: 1:04 p.m.
We got a chance to talk with Lewis, who explained that even before the Trayvon Martin case arose she had planned to “address the ongoing racial tension in America” in her sermon, provoked to do so by stories like that of Ramarley Graham. Then she heard about Martin.
“This just grew so organically,” she said.
Lewis, who wrote a post on the subject for the Huffington Post, said of the movement surrounding Martin’s death: “This is a great moment in time for us to understand that we haven’t really healed this. We’re not post-race in America.”
She added that after the service church-goers will take “mug shots” in their hoodies holding signs “I’m not dangerous, racism is.” Those will then be shared via social media.