Driving snow didn't seem to dampen the spirit of a rally in downtown Anchorage Saturday demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, a teenager shot and killed thousands of miles away in Florida. Similar protests were held around the country.
"This is kind of a sick and tired of being sick and tired moment," said Wanda Greene, president of the Anchorage chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.
Martin, 17, was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., while Martin was unarmed. Zimmerman told police he fired in self-defense. He has not been charged.
Minnie Hannah and her grandsons Elijah, 6, and Zion, 10, were at the rally in Anchorage on Saturday. One of the boys carried a sign that said, "I am Trayvon Martin."
Hannah said she wanted to teach them about who Martin was, why he died and what she said was a human rights issue.
"They'll remember this. They'll remember Trayvon," Hannah said. "It means that much to me. I don't know Trayvon, but I feel like that could happen to them when they get a little bit older."
The 50 or so people who gathered Saturday also voiced opposition to a bill in the Alaska House of Representatives that would loosen the rules governing the use of lethal force in self-defense situations. House Bill 80 has been called the "Stand Your Ground" bill.
"(That bill) can be misinterpreted, it could be misunderstood, and it could probably lead to the tragic deaths of needless other people," Greene said. "It also leaves open a more permissive attitude toward racial profiling."
"We just want to show, even though we're up in Alaska, we are aware that something like that, so tragic, can happen in our community," she said. "We're not so insulated and encapsulated that these tragedies cannot touch us. Trayvon could've been anybody's kid. It could've been here. It could be anywhere."
The group chanted, "We want justice now," and "No justice, no peace."
Rene Rouzan said House Bill 80 was unnecessary because there are plenty of gun rights already in place. He said it was unlikely that minorities following the proposed self-defense law would be treated the same as nonminorities.
"That's not justice," Rouzan said. "That's 'just us.' "
Reach Casey Grove at email@example.com or 257-4589.