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CINCINNATI - A "Justice for Trayvon" Prayer and Protest began at the federal courthouse in downtown Cincinnati Saturday at approximately noon. Cincinnati joined 100 cities nationwide with similar protests planned.
The Cincinnati rally ended shortly after 1 p.m. on the Main Street side, north of Fifth Street. Organizers asked attendees to arrive by 11:30 a.m.
About 700 people showed up for the rally, also calling for the defeat of a "Stand Your Ground" bill that has been introduced in the Ohio legislature.
The National Action Network founded by the Rev. Al Sharpton called for demonstrations Saturday to protest the not-guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial last week. Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida last year.
"We don't believe justice was served in this case. A young man was hunted down and murdered," said Bishop Bobby Hilton, president of the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of NAN. "We're calling for a federal civil rights investigation."
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the Justice Department has an open investigation into the case.
Saturday's event featured speakers, prayer sessions with local pastors and a chance for people to come together to show support for the cause in a "very peaceful, orderly" manner.
"We're not going to break one window. We're not going to set one fire. We believe in peaceful, non-violent protest like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and the Rev. Al Sharpton," Rev. Hilton said prior to the event.
Since the verdict, nearly all demonstrations around the country have been peaceful. The exceptions were in Oakland and Los Angeles, where protesters ran through streets and attacked people on sidewalks. Dozens were arrested.
While people attended the rally for a variety of reasons, Ronda Peck felt that it was her duty as a mother to participate in the call for action.
"It's important to me as a mother because Trayvon Martin represents all of our children. It could have been my child," she said.
Vanderbilt University law professor Carol Swain echoed the sentiment that more needs to be done to serve the needs of communities and serve the needs of those who live there.
"They have time for political correctness, but they're not doing anything to serve the needs of the black community or the needs of America as a whole, and as a consequence, we're suffering."
Martin's family participated in "Justice for Trayvon" rallies Saturday. His mother and brother joined Sharpton in New York and his father was in Miami.
The Cincinnati Human Relations Commission says it will host a community dialogue on the trial's impact, race, fear, humanity and hope on Monday, July 22 at 5 p.m. at the Community Action Agency, 1740 Langdon Farm Road.
Read more about the Greater Cincinnati Chapter of NAN at http://gccnan.net/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/GCCNAN-Greater-Cincinnati-Chapter-of-the-National-Action-Network/355638454534033
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