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  • EDWARD ORTIZ / eortiz@sacbee.com

    A crowd that grew to more than 200 people participated in a "Justice for Trayvon" rally today at the federal courthouse in Sacramento. It was one of many rallies across the country that grew from the outcome of the Trayvon Martin case in Florida.

  • EDWARD ORTIZ / eortiz@sacbee.com

    Inside the federal courthouse building in Sacramento, demonstrators rally in a call for the Justice Department to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, the Florida man who was acquitted in the killing of teenager Trayvon Martin.

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Update: 'Justice for Trayvon Martin' marchers rally in Sacramento

Published: Saturday, Jul. 20, 2013 - 1:53 pm
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 - 8:58 am

About 220 people at a "Justice for Trayvon Martin" marched through downtown Sacramento today.

The protesters gathered at the federal courthouse at 501 I St. at 1 p.m., before marching to the state Capitol at 10th and L streets, where they paused to listen to speakers. The moved on to the building that houses the state Attorney General's office, to hear more speakers, then back to the federal courthouse, where the event concluded at about 4 p.m.

Shortly before the event wrapped up, Faye Kennedy, a co-coordinator of the event, explained why the case was so important to her.

"What happened to Trayvon could happen to any of us if you're of color" Kennedy said. "We have to find a better way of engaging people than using violence."

The event was one of more than 100 being held in U.S. cities today in an attempt to get the U.S. Justice Department to press civil rights charges against George Zimmerman, who was found not guilty in Martin's shooting death by a Florida jury last week.

Tina McKee of Davis was holding a sign as the Sacramento group marched along I Street early in the rally.

"We felt strongly that the decision was unjust," McKee said. "We just feel like we wanted to do something about it. So we thought we would come out."

Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, confronted Martin, a black teenager, as he was walking home after a trip to a local store in February 2012. Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Latino, told police he thought Martin looked suspicious.

The two began to fight, and Martin, 17, was fatally shot. Zimmerman told police that Martin attacked him and was banging his head on the ground.

The verdict sparked a number of protests and ignited a national debate on race relations. On Friday, President Barack Obama gave an emotional talk on the case, saying at one point, "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."

He added, "I think it's important to recognize that the African American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn't go away."

Today's rallies, marches and vigil across the U.S. also are intended to highlight concern about Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which like such statutes in other states gives people the right to use reasonable force defend themselves in dangerous situations. The law was cited in Zimmerman's defense.

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