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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bad verdict in Zimmerman trial sparks nationwide protests

Chants of “No justice, no peace! No racist police!” filled the air as a crowd of between one and two hundred people marched from Central High School and through South Providence on Sunday night. A cop driving alongside the event, ostensibly to protect the marchers but also to make sure it didn’t get too disorderly, said to me from his car, “Hey, I’m not racist! I’m Puerto Rican!”

When the police arrived on the scene there was some momentary worry that they would try to stop the protest, but instead they provided what amounted to a police escort. As one woman in the crowd said, “If they can’t beat us, they have to join us.” I’m not sure how literally she meant the term “beat us.”

It was an entirely peaceful protest representing people of all ages and races coming together to express their outrage at the miscarriage of justice that occurred in Florida. Sure, the messages coming from the speakers were sometimes at cross purposes. One speaker spoke about abolishing prisons and the police only to be followed by a woman who shared the opinion that Zimmerman should be in prison for his crime.

Still, this was a rally for everyone who questions the role of race and guns in our society, and the ways in which these forces interact and lead to ruined and ended lives. Eventually rallies like this need to be loud enough for the powers that be to hear.

Steve Ahlquist is a writer, artist and current president of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism and action. He also maintains the blog Caution Church Ahead, where he writes on the intersection of religion and politics. The views expressed are his own not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.