By William Reed
Do you feel George Zimmerman is “a racist?” Make a fashion statement to let the world know how you feel. The issue of “race in America” was clearly illustrated in the attention African Americans paid to the Zimmerman trial. Nowadays, Black Americans are no longer asking, rather, they’re demanding “Justice for Trayvon Martin.”
If Zimmerman thought he’d live out his days as a happy camper, he’s sadly mistaken. The “Justice for Trayvon Martin” campaign has morphed into an enterprise that’s not going anywhere, anytime soon, especially if Parks & Crump, attorneys at law, have any say in the matter. Parks & Crump, which specializes in personal injury cases, happens to be one of the nation’s top Black law firms. Expert in law and civil rights, the firm is the reason that [Trayvon] was packing a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea sticks in your mind.
Partners Darryl Parks and Benjamin Crump have been the most visible of the firm’s six-member team. Thanks largely to Crump’s legal position and activist efforts, the Martin case has prompted a flurry of marches and rallies around the nation, merited comment from President Barack Obama and garnered the attention of the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Parks & Crump camp helped to create a “Justice for Trayvon” industry consisting of protest paraphernalia that includes hoodies, sweatshirts and bumper stickers. The law firm proved to be instrumental in establishing the Trayvon Martin Foundation, with donations totaling an estimated $5 million.
Crump is a principal with the Tallahassee-based firm. He was initially contacted by Tracy Martin’s cousin. His cousin, a Miami attorney, happened to be familiar with Crump’s civil rights work in Florida. The firm is headquartered in the state capital, and Crump is well connected and has been recognized by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund for his “enduring pursuit of justice.” The firm’s receipts from both city and state wrongful death lawsuits exceed $10 million.
Crump also collaborates with Orlando attorney Natalie Jackson. Crump and Jackson hired media communications expert Ryan Julison, to make sure that their strategy worked and the word got out. Then, they staged news conferences in which Trayvon’s parents talked about their loss. Florida media outlets began to notice. Shortly thereafter, they contacted Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) to help convince authorities to release 911 tapes – recordings that brought the case to the attention of the national media. The team applied pressure on authorities by organizing a series of rallies and worked with national civil rights figures such as Al Sharpton. Both Sharpton and Jesse Jackson were the first to arrive in Sanford to participate in various rallies and meetings.
As the case against Zimmerman moves from one court to another, Trayvon’s family members say they need financial assistance to ensure that justice is served. They’ve been directing donations toward a criminal justice advocacy foundation in the deceased teenager’s name.
The Trayvon Martin Foundation was established to keep this issue alive. It’s the vehicle through which Trayvon’s parents and their attorneys travel and work to create awareness of how violent crime impacts families of victims, and to provide support for the bereaved families. The foundation seeks to advocate that crime victims and their families not be ignored in the discussions about violent crimes, to increase public awareness of all forms of racial, ethnic and gender profiling and educate youth on conflict resolution techniques.
Zimmerman’s acquittal has sparked protests throughout the country. If you move from spectator to protester, you too, can make a fashion or activist statement when you purchase a hoodie, sweatshirt or sticker to demand “Justice for Trayvon.” The cost of protesting isn’t cheap. The movement has enough “money to move the case forward” but sales of campaign materials and receipts are vital. Analysts say it will cost “at least $5 million” at each rung to move the case up the legal ladder. To make donations to move this case forward, contact: trayvonmartinfoundation.org.
William Reed is head of the Business Exchange Network and available for speaking/seminar projects through the Bailey Group.org.