North Texans speak out again for Trayvon Martin

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on March 24, 2012 at 6:06 PM

Updated Saturday, Mar 24 at 10:16 PM

DALLAS — Hundreds of people gathered at Dallas City Hall Saturday evening demanding justice for Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was shot dead on his way home from the corner store last month.

The shooter, George Zimmerman, told authorities that Martin, 17, appeared to be suspicious. He was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and was carrying a bag of Skittles and an iced tea when he was gunned down. He had no weapon.

Trayvon's death sparked outrage across the nation. Jessica Guilbeaux, a Dallas high school teacher, organized Saturday's rally outside Dallas City Hall — the second in two days in North Texas.

“I was angry,” she said. “I don’t think hoodies is why you should be scared for your life.”

Dozens of students from Dallas’ Townview Magnet School attended the protest, including James Spears. The high school senior admits he often worries about how people may judge him because of his race or what he’s wearing.

“People walk past me — people not of my race — clinch their purses or give me dirty looks sometimes,” the 18-year-old said.

Spears' mother has given him specific instructions for survival. She’s especially mindful of how people might view her teenage son while wearing a hoodie.

“She has talked to me about being cautious,” he said. “As sad as it might be, people do judge you off the way you look.”

Calls have been growing for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida who shot and killed the unarmed 17-year-old. His attorney insists Zimmerman acted in self-defense.

Officials have often cited Florida’s “stand your ground” law, which lets citizens employ deadly force anywhere if they fear their life is in jeopardy.

Before, the expectation was people would retreat when possible if they were attacked. Florida was the first to expand its self-defense law in 2005.

Texas enacted a similar law in 2007. It, however, only authorizes deadly force in your home, car or business — but not on the street, like in Florida.

“I still think the person who is being attacked still should have some type of responsibility to defuse whatever the situation is,” Guilbeaux said. She and others gathered signatures at the rally for a petition to have lawmakers review the Texas law.

Two additional Dallas-area rallies are planned for the next two days, and dozens more protests were staged on Saturday from Virginia to Florida.

One of those rallies is planned for Monday at the University of Texas at Arlington.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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