- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
More than a dozen people, some wearing hooded sweatshirts, rallied outside of the Charles County courthouses Monday afternoon to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida in February and call for better entertainment for local young people, which participants said could keep youth out of trouble.
“Something needed to be done to support the youth in Charles County,” march organizer Bertha White said. “This is simply a way of coming together and being more aware of what the youth need.”
“A hoody doesn’t make me a hoodlum,” declared the sign brandished by Malik Hawkins, 17, who wore a gray sweatshirt with a hood promoting his high school’s mascot, the Westlake Wolverines. Martin was wearing a hoodie when he was killed.
On the one hand, Hawkins was upset that “somebody could lose their life over something so simple” as clothing. On the other hand, the Waldorf teen had local concerns, including “a safe place youth can hang out with no negativity.”
Without an appropriate outlet for energy, young people “turn to negative things, let their friends influence them” into using drugs and committing vandalism, Malik said.
The adults agreed with Malik’s assessment.
“I’d like to see changes in the community made,” Kwasi Louard-Clarke, a Waldorf barber, said. “Youth have too much time on their hands. It leads to them doing things that are detrimental to their lives in the future because they have nothing else to do.”
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People member Joseph Countiss of Pomfret said his main concern was justice, broadly, not any particular issue or case.
“For me, being here for today isn’t exactly for Trayvon. It’s for justice in the United States,” Countiss said. “It doesn’t take too long for the tables to turn. In Florida, if the tables turned [with a black man shooting a white boy] would they have been treated the same way? Other than that, it’s not a black-white issue. It’s about justice in the United States.”
Bill Braxton, former president of the Charles County chapter of the NAACP, led demonstrators in chants of “What do we want? Justice! When do we want it? Now!” as the group circled the courthouses. As they walked alongside Washington Avenue, one driver honked her horn in support and took up Braxton’s chant of “No justice, no peace!”
White, who is a social worker in private practice, recruited marchers through organizations, businesses, neighbors and even on the street, asking skateboarding teenagers if they wouldn’t like somewhere better to ride.
“We cannot forget the particulars of this case. Being that we come from so many different places, so diverse here, we need to take the time to get to know each other,” she said.