Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Chanting At Trayvon Martin March & Rally In Sanford, Florida

Edited by Azizi Powell

[Update: 4/4/2012]

Trayvon Martin, The people of Sanford protested and marched for justice.

Uploaded by Oufinc on Mar 21, 2012

This post documents the types of chants that were used by marchers at a Trayvon Martin rally in Sanford, Florida on March 20, 2012. This post can be considered as a companion piece to two previous posts on this blog about chanting during Trayvon Martin Rallies. Click and for those posts.

Information about Trayvon Martin's death from
The shooting of Trayvon Martin took place on February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida. Trayvon Martin was an African American teenager who was shot and killed by 28-year-old George Zimmerman, a man of mixed ethnicity (Latino and white American Martin, who was unarmed, had been walking to the home of his father's girlfriend from a convenience store when Zimmerman, a community watch captain, followed him after calling the Sanford Police Department, saying he witnessed what he described as suspicious behavior. Soon afterward, he fatally shot Martin.

Information about the Sanford, Florida Rally (March 20, 2012) from
"Rallies and marches have been held from coast to coast. Students, some dressed in all black, have walked out of classes en masse throughout Miami-Dade County. Celebrities and NBA athletes have adopted the cause. In Sanford, some estimates say as many as 30,000 people showed up at a rally last week –in a town of just 50,000. Even the white Republican mayor joined in predominately black events to denounce the killing, demand a review and begin the healing. More than 2 million people have signed an online petition and more than 400 people have donated money to help the family pay expenses..."

The lack of arrest and an investigation that was widely portrayed as bungled from the start, resonated on Twitter and on the streets, [Rev Al Sharpton] said.

“When nothing happened, no arrest and police give contradictory statements, people saw themselves as completely vulnerable,” Sharpton said. “It’s like, ‘now you’re just saying it’s open season on us.’ ”

...Miami’s Campbell isn’t so optimistic. He believes the protesters are wasting their time and that the news will fade.

They are not going to change anything,” Campbell said. “That’s just the way it is for black folks in America.”

But Trayvon’s family is hopeful, convinced the movement will at least help overturn Florida’s controversial “stand your ground” law, and force legislation to regulate community watch volunteers. They are expected to speak Tuesday with House Democrats who are holding a forum on federal issues related to the case.

“This movement, watching the people of this movement, keeps me going,” Trayvon’s father, Tracy Martin, said Sunday night. “Trayvon’s name will be etched in stone. Long after this movement is over, people will remember Trayvon Martin.”"

Video #1: Trayvon Martin, The people of Sanford protested and marched for justice.

"People coming together as one once again to demand equal rights and justice for the wrongful death of Trayvon Martin. This is one of many rallies to take place until justice is served. The over flowing crowd filled the streets and then marched to the Sanford Police Department Headquarters. The shooter George Zimmerman has not been charged as of yet and his whereabouts is unknown."
In this video many vehicle drivers can be heard honking their horns in support of the marchers. It is quite common in the United States to for protestors to stand on street corners holding a sign saying "Honk" in support of their specific cause or concern.

Also note that this video includes music as backdrop. That music wasn't part of that protest march.

Video #2: Trayvon Martin the Rally in Sanford Florida for Justice, Peace, Unity, and Equality on 3/22/2012

Uploaded by Oufinc on Mar 24, 2012
This video's uploader wrote a long comment about what he or she believes is the Sanford, Florida Police Department's history of unfair treatment of Black people. Click to read that statement.]

Most of the chants & signage used in the Sanford, Florida march (March 20, 2012) was also used in the New York City Million Hoodie March (March 22, 2012). While I haven't studied chanting and signage in other Trayvon Martin marches which have been held throughout the United States, I believe that it's reasonable to assume that the chants & signage used in each of those marches are the same as or very similar to those found in the two marches that I have reviewed. Trayvon Martin's mother's filing for trademark protection for the use of her son's name on merchandise serves to corroborate that at least two of those chants are being widely used:

"[Trayvon] Martin's mother has moved to trademark two popular rallying cries, "I am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon." The family said it does not want want other people printing memorabilia.

"Sybrina Fulton has no desire to profit from her son's death, but wants to protect her son's name legacy," said family representative Ryan Julison."

Here's another link about Ms. Fulton's seeking trademark protection for those two slogans:

This list of chants used in the March 20, 2012 Sanford, Florida march (as per the video above) is given in alphabetical order. The response portion of call & response chants is given in parenthesis, and the type of chant is given in brackets:

I'm also including my sense of what these chants/slogans mean.

1. Chief fire the police!
[rhyming chant]

I'm not sure that I've correctly transcribed this chant. The video includes this notation about the portion near the beginning of this video when that chant is heard "Protestors demanding that the Sanford police chief be fired" (because of the police department's incompetent investigation, including the failure of the police department to adequately gather evidence, and that department's failure to arrest George Zimmerman).

2. Justice for
[a call & response chant]*

* While this slogan/chant was prominently used in the Million Hoodie march as per the videos, articles, and tweets of that march that I reviewed, I didn't get the sense that it was chanted in this call and response manner. However, I could be mistaken about that.

"Justice For Trayvon" is also written on signage in found in that video as "Justice 4 Trayvon".

(The meaning of this chant is self-evident).

3. I AM
(Trayvon Martin!)
[call & response chant]

This slogan/chant as well as chant #7 refer to the fact that any dark skinned teenager or adult could have been the victim of this shooting. Also this chant refers to the belief that an injustice against one person negatively affects the entire community (with "community" here meaning the entire nation, if not the world.

4. No Justice
(No Peace!)
[call & response]

This slogan/chant means that until there is justice in this particular case, there will continue to be protests. This slogan/chant may also have a more generalized meaning that until there is fair and impartial justice for all, there will continue to be protests and advocacy for that goal.

5. We want an arrest!
[unison chant]

This slogan/chant refers to the demand for George Zimmerman to be arrested for killing Trayvon Martin.

6. We want justice.
[unison chant]

The meaning of this slogan/chant is self-evident.

7. We ARE
(Trayvon Martin!)

[call & response chant or a unison chant.]

Read the meaning of this slogan/chant that is written in the entry for chant/slogan #3.

Here's an excerpt from which mentions participants at a Georgia rally chanting & singing of the civil rights song "We Shall Overcome":

"Thousands rallied Monday on the steps of the Georgia state capitol. The crowd chanted "I am Trayvon!" and "Arrest Zimmerman now!" The protest ended with the crowd linking hands and singing, "We Shall Overcome."
In the 1960s, linking hands became the standard way of singing "We Shall Overcome". That song is an adaptation of the African American Gospel song "We'll Overcome". Click for examples of that song.

I've read other reports about "We Shall Overcome" being sung at prayer vigils for Trayvon. Such reports are the only mention of participant group singing (spontaneous or planned) that I've come across at contemporary African American protest rallies or prayer vigils. To clarify, by group singing I mean the protestors singing a song together, not performer/s singing a song while the protestors watch.

RIP Travon Martin!

My thanks to all those who peacefully participated in the rallies & marches for Trayvon Martin. My thanks also to the uploaders of these featured videos.

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