ST. LOUIS – Just back from two rallies, One at midday and one in the late afternoon. Very hot, humid, threat of rain. 100’s attended both. At the urging of the Rev. Al Sharpton, “Justice For Trayvon Martin” rallies were held in 100 cities across the nation. St. Louis did it’s part in gatherings organized by civil rights activists and church leaders.

We gathered to hear speakers call for federal civil rights charges against the man who shot and killed Martin in Florida, to discuss the deeper issues of race and power in the country, to reflect on the President’s remarks yesterday.

One of the local organizers, Dr. James Coleman Jr., said St. Louisans need to raise their voices, “Get some back in your bone. Open up your mouths and shout truth to power for Trayvon, for Tracy & Sabrina (Martin’s parents), and for the countless other victims, so that our children will not grow up unprotected.”

Chants rang out across the rallies.
“Justice! Justice! Justice! … Now! Now! Now!”
“We won’t forget.”
“No justice! No peace!”

We also sang hymns, prayed and held hands.

All in all an uplifting experience; a moment of solidarity.

But the crowds were overwhelmingly black. Where were the Hispanics, the Asians, the Whites? And the crowd had very few young people in it. Where were our civic leaders: city, state and federal? Oh, there were a smattering of elected officials but not the big names. This all worries me.

The news media here are leading their reporting with a twitter from the police chief that there were no arrests.

I fear that this will be like the furor after Newtown….white hot for a short while and then ineffectual efforts to legislate.

I think that what we need to do is to still make the efforts to legislate knowing they will likely go nowhere BUT have as the underlying theme that we are fighting a war for the soul of the nation, a war of attrition against the mean spirited right wing. In this context, each of these are battles on different fronts as part of a long term strategy. Will there be enough front line troops for the battles to come?

I had dinner at a neighborhood restaurant with a number of activists. The owner decided to put us all in a back room “to give us our privacy.” We wondered if our table discussion was one that he was uncomfortable with- bad for business in a place that has a diverse crowd. By the way, he is black.


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Proud to be an Independent Progressive. I am a progressive- a one time Eisenhower Republican (from 1965 through 2004)who is now a Democrat. I live in a very RED STATE and am a community activist with a very BLUE AGENDA. I was a professor of history, and am now a researcher and gentleman farmer. My political positions are mixed - thus my preferred identification as a Progressive Independent. I am conservative on matters of military intervention, in regard to abortion, immigration, the public school system, gun rights, taxation, voter ID. But I am a traditional conservative, a Buckley, National Review, Eisenhower Republican..... I am a liberal on matters of health care care, funding education, taxation (yes one can be both liberal and conservative on this), civil rights, and alternative energy development/climate change.

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Murph – today at the hate crimes task force, the FBI agent whom I know said that one route into a civil rights prosecution could be the gun if – IF – it came from out of state. That is always a route in for federal jurisdiction. However, one (the only one I could find) source stated the gun was manufactured in Coca Beach, FL thus probably ruling that aspect out. So I’m still not sure whether the DOJ has an entry point at all. The FBI agent was very unsure there was standing. We will just now have to wait and see. Wish I had more to report.



I hope this gets posted elsewhere. I know you write on a number of other sites.

This morning I wrote a piece and my opening line was, “There are two kinds of abuse: the abuse of privilege and the abuse of poverty. I won’t quote the entire opening because it’s long, but I name privilege as the most damaging because it limits peripheral vision and makes no demands. Poverty equalizes. Both have their own color and we know what those are. Perhaps the privileged do not attend the rallies because there is nothing really for them to lose.

Maybe we should look for a way to change the pattern of protests. It started in Wisconsin at the state capitol; incredible support for the effort to stop an overzealous governor; it fizzled out; nothing changed. Then there was Wall Street; impressive until people couldn’t use the streets that were so filled with protesters; that fizzled and Wall Street is doing just fine. There have been protests on local issues all over the country. The most recent over Trayvon’s death and the acquittal of Zimmerman brought out angry groups of young people, black and white, who destroyed property (LA, Oakland, SF). Was it a game or serious? How many of those rioters carry guns? I would think a lot. Shall we factor fear as one of the reasons many don’t show up?

Are we so exhausted from reading and watching the horrible news everyday that we’ve allowed malaise to set in? You are the exception to the rule. That is why I have such respect for you. You are a man of conviction. You don’t just say; you do. I say a lot and don’t. It’s so easy to find reasons to do nothing.

You know that I taught in Del Paso Heights, one of the three areas heavily populated with black, Mexican, Hmong, and Vietnamese. The school I taught in had about 10% to 15% white students. There was no sense of color difference. This is where I see poverty as an equalizer. Hate and prejudice are taught; the poor are too busy surviving; they’re all in it together. When I taught college classes, I did not detect a sense of prejudice among the young students of different color. Is the problem our generation? TV makes all of this unreal and our presence unnecessary. We know we can watch everything on the 6 o’clock news, and there will always be a Chris Matthews to explain to us what we just saw. Is there a better way to do this?

I’m in California, 3,000 miles away from the real pain and emotion of the killings in the past year. I grieve for our country.

Thanks for what you do.


Hey bourne – this is a very powerful statement, but I’d like to weigh in with more (to me anyway) positive things that came from all of this. In WI the specific recall of Walker did not work – but they did recall two Senators thereby ENDING the relentless attacks on labor. The protests did not fizzle – they were no longer needed, and the state has stopped even trying to kill off state workers. To me that is a win.

OWS really did not do much, but out of the whole movement against the rampant excesses we got the consumer protection agency, Cordray was confirmed, and I’m hearing more and more prosecutions, civil AND criminal, of individuals who created the fresh hell of the housing collapse. Not front page headlines because they are being handled as these things are in DOJ district areas that don’t light up the NY Times when they occur in other states or even outside Manhattan. But various hedge fund people are being prosecuted, and people are finally being called to account.

The ONLY place where trouble occurred during the demonstrations on behalf of Trayvon was Oakland. What I see across the country are stronger communities that no longer have to riot because they no longer feel disengaged. The empowerment of people of color is hardly perfect, but it IS happening as local efforts are spawning real change. Black on Black crime is WAY down because communities ARE doing what ignorant white people have sneered at – they are demanding accountability, getting prosecutions, stopping violence before it starts. Massive programs to take back cities are popping up all over including an amazing program of ‘legal squatting’ in Chicago’s decimated housing where families are settling in vacant home, paying the taxes and fixing the property that under common law allows them, after two years, to own this small piece of real estate. In cities across the nation “Nobody out” actions to stop foreclosure are saving homes. Community programs on many fronts including the growth of employee ownership opportunities, local food sources in previous food deserts, health care and employment chances – all good.

It’s not evenly occurring, but it IS happening. I no longer look to street action as the litmus test. That is what we did when we had nothing else to do. But we made changes, and if we had NOT, if we had not changed laws and made local control more possible, we’d still be marching over the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Nope – I see much more than street action today. And what I see gives me the most hope I’ve ever had – EVEN in the days when there were tens of thousands in the streets. We’re still in the streets, OK – building, fixing, growing, voting, changing policy and changing practice. And that matters hugely to the lack of need for marching anymore.



I am not satisfied that the successes you cite are large enough to validate that rallies, whether peaceful or violent, are as effective as they once were. I admire people like Murph who, by standing for what they believe in, honor those who have paid too high a price. It serves the better good in society but little justice will ultimately come to Trayvon Martin and all of the other thousands who die every day by gunfire. But not standing with others in public protest does not imply disinterest or disengagement. We voice our outrage every day on POV, HP, and the myriad other sites that offer opportunities to speak. We must question if we’ve become too comfortable in our presumption that rallies and the thousands of comments we post are halting the diminishing values that are destroying our society. If they are not, then it’s time we change our methods or start thinking smarter.

Understand, CL, the purpose in my response to Murph’s article was only to question whether or not public protests produce the desired result, not to measure small or large successes. And, it would be disingenuous if I did not say to you now that I questioned whether or not I should even read your reply given our recent heated VOX discussion on a matter that was of interest only to our community. We were inappropriate and rude and ignored the protocols of public discourse. As Murph says frequently on HP, “It is possible to disagree without being disagreeable.” It’s advice worth following.



Gosh Bourne – I’m sorry you felt that way. I did not take any of your comments as inappropriate and am sorry you thought that of mine. It’s the mayor at whom I am furious, not you. I apologize if that anger seemed directed at you since it was not.


Hey Bourne, FWIW, I remember the discussion between you and CL on Kevin Johnson and I do remember CL expressing strong opinions on Kevin Johnson and your having a different perspective but I didn’t find anything you or CL said as inappropriate or personal.

Sometimes, strong feelings about an issue or politician can come off as projected at the other person when that’s not the intention at all, such situations can sometimes lead to misunderstandings and I do think that’s the case here.

We do protect free expression at The Planet, everyone should feel free to be as expressive as they wish about any issue, politician, event, etc. When it crosses the line is when it becomes personalized and instead of focusing on the issue, criticisms are focused on other members.

Respect is indeed what provides the most fertile ground for substantive conversations, and rest assured, we are wholly committed to that principle.


Hi there Murph

Great write up about your town. A couple things. Sybrina Fulton spells her name with a Y not an A, no big deal to me but I would think important to her. I also think the black owner of that restaurant was protecting you all and himself. Think about it, he is AA and when you all have left his restaurant, he is left alone. The same fear you speak of and other commenters here speak of is probably the basis for his decision. I could be wrong but history would tell me I am more right than wrong.

I don’t think it is over either. There will be the march on Washington in August and I think it will be another stepping off point for people. Sure your do nothing people and your racists are not going to do a damn thing unless it is for racists to hold separate little protests brandishing their guns. BUT I still believe the SPARK has not occurred yet. What needs to be done, IMHO is to tie this back to the 1% and their efforts to foster a divisive society. Trayvon is just the beginning, my hope is that justice and change is the ending.


My Dad was in the army all of my life living with him and Mom. We had friends and neighbors who were black, Japanese, Spanish, and many other colors and nationalities. We had to get along with lots of different people and did. I never thought much about the differences but about how much we had in common. One of my best friends was a black guy. I was welcome in his home as he was in mine.

As much as I hate WAR (those of you who have read my posts know it is my passion to end WARS) the army life both growing up and when I was drafted and served my tour of two years, was a good experience. We were immersed into several cultures all at the same time. I almost think everyone should serve for a while to experience others cultures.

I did see some of the prejudices against my black friends but we stuck together and defended each other. I am sorry that some white folks did unspeakable things to black people. Those whites make me ashamed to be white. The majority of white folks are not like that, though. Just as the majority of blacks are not bad folks.

Assumed Name
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Murph, the rallies weren’t well advertised–it took me a half hour Internet search to find information for my area and it wasn’t announced in either of two local papers, but the common meeting place was to begin at noon in front of a federal building as the target was the DOJ. I debated whether to go both due to safety concerns (I only have the one kid with none to spare *smiles*) and because I was worried about overload for the same said kiddo. (He has had trouble sleeping of late.) In the end, we stayed home with a half hour of news about the events. It seems, however, that a lot has been done with social media–about 25% of African Americans, for example, are on Twitter, and that was huge in forcing the Florida to arrest and prosecute Zimmerman. Still, I too worry about momentum…it seemed there was hardly a whimper, frankly, after Roberts’ gutting of The Voting Rights Act.

Someone just bounced in my bed and wants a hug.



Glad you went, Murph. There was a rally here, too, but unless you’d been told where and when by someone, there was NO information to find. So I did not go to one today. Thank you for doing this!

I agree with AdLib – I don’t think this is over. I don’t actually think Newtown is over either. The obvious shows of rallies and marches and press conferences, yes, but not over for the dedicated work to make change. It’s more like what happened with ACA – calls, letters, visits to legislators, unremarked and unsung by the media, unrelenting on the ground. It’s not the 60s anymore. We learned long ago that marches over the Edmund Pettus bridge HAVE to be followed by the Civil Rights Act. That’s where we’re headed. That’s where the energies will lie.

Why were there no young? Because their parents told them to stay home. Too freaking dangerous even with all of you, all in the going and coming, never mind it’s too hot for hoodies. Across the country the conspicuous absence of boys (and they still are) Trayvon’s age was its own kind of witness about what happened. Little children, adults, grandparents – sure. But no young men. Cannot risk that, not even teen-aged girls, not now.

But yeah – where were the white people? Maybe it was like here. The organizer of the Sacramento rally was unknown to me – never heard of her – and she made a rather conspicuous statement about reaching out to secular groups not even Black churches never mind anyone else. So we have to build that coalition. I’d love it if it was never needed again, but we should build it nevertheless. The folks from NAACP did not seem to know either, so work is required, no doubt about it. We’re all like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz – rusty with disuse.

I’m not as pessimistic about this as you, and it’s not because I’m in CA – quite the opposite. I’m energized by the actions in 100 cities across the nation. I’m energized by the frank and open conversations many of us are having. It won’t be easy, but what worth doing ever is? But we won’t back down either. New allies are forming, and new people are getting engaged, and a different mood of anger clearly focused on real change has gripped millions.

So thank you for being “the open and visible sign…” (you know what I mean; we share those roots) for all the world to see. Every journey begins with a single step. You just too a big one. Thank you.


Murph, I think this is quite different from Newtown for one main reason, Stand Your Ground is in more than 30 states in one form or another. So the Zimmerman verdict puts all black people on notice in any SYG and racist white majority state that they could be killed tomorrow just for being black (because that alone instills fear in racists) and not cowering away from any white man that stalks or harasses them.

Newtown was horrible but after the initial shock, I doubt that most parents/Americans believe that it is likely to happen at their child’s elementary school.

SYG and all of the recent racist policies are a flat out attack on African Americans and it would be factually incorrect to say that they don’t have good reason to think they or their community could be victimized by Voter ID, SYG, Stop and Frisk, etc.

So I don’t think it’s odd that the core protestors were from the black community and as this may be the beginning of a movement, it’s not surprising that those who have been in the fight for some time are the ones initially energized. There are plenty of white, Latino, Asian and other Americans who are outraged by all of this, they may not be the initiators but they will join in.

The battle for civil rights in the 1960’s was led by the bravery of people like Rosa Parks and the leadership of Martin Luther King. The black community seems to be coming together (though some in racist states may be holding back for safety’s sake right now…after all, they can be legally murdered now)and they do have to take the lead but the rest of us should be marching with our fellow Americans for social justice and equality.