Sanford, Fla. native organizes peaceful rally for Trayvon Martin in WorthingtonWORTHINGTON — At a time when more and more people are angrily weighing in with opinions about what happened in Sanford, Fla. on the night of Feb. 26, Patricia Lawrence is trying to bring some peace to the situation, she said Tuesday.
WORTHINGTON — At a time when more and more people are angrily weighing in with opinions about what happened in Sanford, Fla. on the night of Feb. 26, Patricia Lawrence is trying to bring some peace to the situation, she said Tuesday.
“There has been a lot of tension, but I think if people from different races can come together, they can help stand for what is right,” Lawrence said.
Originally from Sanford, Lawrence moved in August to Worthington to be near her son, who attends school at Minnesota West Community and Technical College.
When he heads for a four-year school, she plans to stay in her current community.
“I told him I wanted to move to somewhere peaceful, and he suggested I move here to Worthington,” she said of her decision to leave Florida for Minnesota.
Lawrence was saddened to hear about the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin and of the anger and accusations surrounding George Zimmermann, the man who allegedly shot the boy in Sanford.
The case has garnered all sorts of publicity, with allegations about police cover-ups, character assassination, a lack of charges against Zimmermann and the use of Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
“I feel for the family of George and for the family of Trayvon,” Lawrence said. “The town of Sanford was my home, and I still have nieces, nephews, friends and family there, all in that community.”
With such a firestorm of emotion swirling about the case, Lawrence approached the Nobles County Integration Collaborative (NCIC) with a presentation. She wanted to hold a rally for justice, peace and unity to raise awareness about the case.
According to Lakeyta Potter at NCIC, the event, which will take place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the UFCW Local 1161 office at 1039 Oxford St., is not sponsored by the NCIC, but it did provide assistance in promotion and organization of the event. Potter helped secure the location because of her father’s position with the union, and she made the phone call to law enforcement to find out the legalities of the rally.
“We just wanted to be sure we didn’t need any permits,” Potter said, stressing that the union is aware of the event taking place, but has no connection.
Worthington Director of Public Safety Mike Cumiskey said as long as the rally-goers stay on the sidewalk or private property, no permit is needed.
“It is a First Amendment issue,” Cumiskey said. “They can do as they wish as long as they don’t cause problems or break laws.”
Lawrence said even though the death of Martin took place in Florida, far from Minnesota, the issue strikes home here in Worthington.
“We are not exempt from it,” she said, adding sometimes teenagers don’t speak out if they feel an injustice is being done. But she does not, she said, want the rally to be negative.
“I’m trying to keep the negativity out, and stay positive,” Lawrence explained.
Even the poster publicizing the event stresses positivity, stating, “This is a peaceful event to bring awareness. All community members are welcome!”
Some signs will be available, the poster states, but attendees should feel free to bring their own, also.
What Lawrence most wants to bring forward, she said, is the injustice.
“I can’t imagine how Trayvon’s mother feels. I feel her burden as a parent,” she said.
As for what she hopes will come out of a peaceful rally, Lawrence said she wants people to come together and have conversations, listen to each other and know that they did what they could to make sure the judicial system did their part.
“Racism is still around, and probably always will be,” she added. “But I want people to walk away knowing that united we stand, divided we fall. There is only one race—we are all human beings.”
In a phone call from a vacation in Texas, Worthington Mayor Alan Oberloh said Tuesday he was unaware of the rally, but people have the right to let their opinions be known on public matters. In this particular case, he urged people to let Florida laws be followed before it evolves into a civil rights matter.
“Let their laws work before involving radicals like Al Sharpton,” he said.
According to Lawrence, people have responded positively to the idea of a rally and march for Trayvon Martin.
“There’s a vanload of people coming from Jackson, people from Minneapolis, and people from Minnesota West,” she said. “And there are a lot of people here from Florida.”