NAACP demonstration planned for Saturday

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Will support Martin family, protest 'Stand Your Ground' laws

By Jeff D'Alessio

A demonstration is planned for Saturday around the Hardin County Justice Center as the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People shows support for the family of slain teenager Trayvon Martin and protests “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Donna Smalls, acting president of the local NAACP chapter, said the organization’s goal is “to correct a tragedy and come together.” She said Martin’s death is a civil rights issue.

“He was unarmed and walking down the street and not bothering anyone,” Smalls said.

She said the demonstration of support is for the NAACP’s effort to bring civil rights charges against neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman, who was acquitted Saturday of murder, “Not because (Martin) was an African-American child, but (because the) Stand Your Ground law puts innocent people in harm’s way.”

In an email to the local chapter’s executive committee Tuesday night, Smalls said, “I am asking you as the local NAACP to show your visual support for the national mandate to bring justice to this family. We are all affected and we must stand up and speak out against injustice.”

Smalls hopes local politicians, church leaders, parents, youth and friends also will join in the effort, which begins at noon Saturday and is scheduled to last 30 minutes.

Smalls, who is attending the national NAACP convention this week in Orlando, Fla., said the not-guilty verdict surprised her.

“Only because I think the judge was looking for an out by considering manslaughter,” she said.

She said demonstrations like Saturday’s event in Elizabethtown could show Attorney General Eric Holder how serious the NAACP is in pushing for civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Holder spoke Tuesday at the national convention and condemned “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Smalls said the local demonstration will go on regardless of the number of attendees to support the effort.

Jeff D’Alessio can be reached at (270) 505-1757 or jdalessio@thenewsenterprise.com.