IMAGES: The Million Hoodie March

Compiled by Arturo R. García

Mother Jones’ assertion that Wednesday’s Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin and the Occupy Wall Street movement are “linked” will need to be reassessed in the days ahead. Though Occupation members like @OccupyTheHood were credited by some with helping the two groups find solidarity leading into the event, by Wednesday evening, allegations were made online accusing members of OWS of moving to co-opt it. (A compilation of some of the tweets in the debate can be found here.)

But one more thing should be reevaluated from that video, too: the notion that “hundreds” took part. People on the ground, as well as some online outlets, reported that thousands lined the streets, among them Martin’s parents.

“Our son is your son,” Travon’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, told the crowd. “This is not a black and white thing. This is a right and wrong thing.”

But with longtime activist and political pundit Al Sharpton has organized a rally seeking justice for Trayvon, and the arrest of his killer, George Zimmerman, in Sanford, Fl., where the crime – for which Zimmerman was never arrested – took place, and other rallies sure to follow, perhaps Wednesday’s march could prove to be something else: a beginning.

Photo by @XLovePatricia

Photo by Liza Sabater

Photo by J. Quazi King

Photo by John Moore/Getty Images

Photo by Andrew Katz

Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

Trayvon Martin's parents, Tracy Martin (left) and Sybrina Fulton (center). Photo courtesy of ReachNYC.com

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  • Anonymous

    For those who attended the Union Square and other solidarity marches/events, could you explain in more depth how some people were going off topic? My thought is, speaking about racial profiling by police would still be on topic even though Trayvon Martin was not killed by the police. Were you expecting only discussions about this particular incident, or were more broader discussions of institutionalized racism, societal fear of black people, profiling, etc. welcomed? Were the interrupters trying to steer the conversation away from race and racism?

    • Anonymous

      I defined on-topic as anything dealing with racial profiling and racism in society (and how it intersects with criminal justice), so racial profiling by police, racial profiling by civilians, and institutionalized racism that affects how crimes against POC are investigated/punished were all on-topic. (Oscar Grant felt like a natural connection for a lot of people, which is probably why the Bay Area MHM had an easier time staying on-topic; race and criminal justice is very much on our minds, even in Occupy.) Occupy arrests/prosecutions that had a clear racial component were also OK, as long as people focused more on the racism than on the Occupy part. Once the speakers started talking about cases of police oppression that didn’t have a clear racial component*, or once the subject started to go into things like the economy, labor justice, education, etc., that was clearly off-topic. Sentiments like “fuck the police” were also somewhat off-topic, since we were protesting the racism that affects police work, not the police themselves (plus Trayvon Martin was killed by a civilian anyway).

  • Anonymous

    I went to the Million Hoodie March in San Francisco, where despite the visible presence of Occupy SF and Occupy Oakland people (including the iconic red and white OO sign) things stayed mostly on-topic. We had one guy from an indie newspaper start talking about how the system (meaning capitalism) was at the root of the problem, and one person from Occupy Oakland made a comment about a few Occupiers being held for an alleged hate crime, but neither spoke for very long, and the response was pretty tepid. Most speakers spoke about their experiences with racism, and if anyone talked about a systemic problem it had to do with the endemic racism in the criminal justice system that allowed the killers to go free (like Zimmerman) or get a slap on the wrist (like Johannes Mehserle).

    During the march itself (at least the parts I was able to participate in, since I had to leave after a few blocks) some people started adding “fuck the police” onto the end of “no justice, no peace” (turning it into another FTP march, which would have been off-topic like whoa) but once people with bullhorns realized what was going on they made an active effort to change the chants so that they were focused back on Trayvon Martin. So although I could tell that there was a desire to co-opt the march and the rally, I think with a few exceptions the Occupy people were good about stepping back and letting the focus stay on Trayvon Martin.

  • Anonymous

    There was this amazing/frustrating speakout-debate at Union Square at around 10:30pm.  At first, it was stories about personal experiences with racial profiling and discrimination with the police, but then OWS members kept interrupting and turning the attention away from Trayvon Martin and towards the economy and screwing the police, etc. etc.  It was really upsetting to listen to, actually, because you could see the crowd being unsettled by the change in direction in dialogue. 

    However, there were several OWS who noticed the co-opting attempt and stepped in the circle to speak and apologize to those there for Trayvon Martin and tell other OWS members to stop and back off for a bit – and one of them finally did succeed in stopping the debate, but then the speakout dissolved and people spoke amongst themselves. 

    OWS and MHM can work together in the future, but last night was for mourning and rage, and many (at Union Sq) felt they weren’t allowed that by OWS.

    The main issue with this march is that it was very disorganized/no one with back-up plans – a leaderless protest is all good in the abstract, but not so much here.  The march got split up into three groups (I think) – one group went north from Union Square, another went south (which… why?), and another was guided in marching a circle – this last one, when arriving back at Union Square, was then further divided by those who wanted to stay at Union Square and those who wanted to go to Times Sq.  We need a “if ___, do ___” plan.

    One thing I noticed is that a lot of people don’t have their facts straights about Trayvon Martin’s murder.  There was a lot of rage about cops killing him, which was… kind of embarrassing to listen to.  Not that police brutality and racial discrimination isn’t at the core of the march and for thousands of young black men!  but… really, please learn that in Martin’s case, the issue was with racial prejudice on part of civilians and racially-motivated neglect on part of police.