BARTON – Demonstrators gathered in Barton Friday to call attention to a number of issues they feel passionately about. About a dozen people turned out and several held signs regarding the unarmed black teen who was shot and killed in Florida late February. Others held signs in memory of Melissa Jenkins, the St. Johnsbury Academy teacher who was brutally murdered last week, while others held signs for peace and other issues.
Some demonstrators said they are part of the Peace and Justice Group, some said they are part of the Occupy 99 percent group.
Of those interviewed, several, including Bob Castle of Holland, said the common connection among the group is a concern over the violence in the culture. A person who identified himself as only Dave said that all the problems can be traced to greed and a lack of love.
Trayvon Martin, a black 17-year-old male was walking in a community in Sanford, FL, just north of Orlando. A community watch leader, George Zimmerman, was following Martin. They purportedly got into an altercation and Zimmerman allegedly shot and killed Martin. After questioning Zimmerman, police let him go.
Zimmerman told police he acted out of self-defense.
Several news reports indicate that Zimmerman had an injury on the back of his head and a broken nose following the incident.
Martin was talking to a friend on the phone, and carrying only a drink and candy, news reports say. He expressed concern to his friend that he was being followed and said he refused to run. A short while later, he was dead.
The killing of Martin has generated a national outcry that has spread to the Northeast Kingdom with many pushing for Zimmerman’s arrest. According to reports, Zimmerman has apparently gone into hiding.
Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law is under criticism.
Demonstrators in Barton held signs with messages such as “Justice for Trayvon Martin” while they wore hooded sweatshirts to show support for Martin. Martin reportedly wore a hooded sweatshirt when the incident occurred.
Karen Ceraso of West Glover wore a pink hooded sweatshirt Friday: pink in memory of Melissa Jenkins and the hood in memory of Trayvon Martin. Ceraso said she is concerned for her son’s future as he is part Puerto Rican. She held a sign that read, “Peace is worth working for.”
Diane Peel of Newport was present. Peel is part of the 99 percent Occupy group. She talked about corporate greed and the connection to the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the issue with Trayvon Martin. She held a sign that read, “No more vigilante justice. Repeal Stand Your Ground laws."
Demonstrators meet weekly in Barton and Newport.