Reporting Reg Chapman
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Churchgoers and concerned citizens across Minnesota and the country wore hooded sweatshirts Sunday to honor a teenager shot dead in his Florida neighborhood.
Seventeen-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by Neighborhood Watch Captain George Zimmerman last month. Police say Martin was unarmed, but Zimmerman says he thought Martin was a threat. Zimmerman was not arrested.
Now, the image of Martin in his hoodie is everywhere.
In Minneapolis, a community gathered Sunday, inspired by Martin’s killing and all the Twin Cities children taken and wounded by gun violence. The gathering happened in north Minneapolis and was sponsored by Protect Minnesota.
Sen. Linda Higgins, who attended the gathering, says that although Martin’s death has sparked the nation’s interest, it’s important to remember what’s happened in Minnesota.
“Even though our entire country is talking about gun violence now, we need to bring it home and talk about what’s right here,” she said.
The mothers of Terrell Mayes Jr. — the 3-year-old who was killed by a stray bullet — and Quantell Braxton — who was shot in the head while playing with friends — were joined by other mothers who want the violence to stop.
Community activist K.G. Wilson said those grieving mothers don’t want their children to be forgotten.
Some people even go so far as to describe Minneapolis as a war zone.
V.J. Smith, the national president of Mad Dads, said that since Jan. 1, 456 shots have been fired in the city.
“And in those shots, people have been to the hospital, people have lost their ability to walk again,” he said.
Sunday’s meeting gave people the ability to work with others toward a common goal.
“This is what we need to do for the killings here,” Wilson said. “This is what we need to do: come together like this.”
Community members signed up to help lobby lawmakers about gun control. Many also committed to take part in A Million Hoodie March, which is to be held at the University of Minnesota Thursday night at 6 p.m.