ALBANY, N.Y. – Local groups have joined together to help young people express their feelings about the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.
On Tuesday the Center for Law and Justice, the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, and Urban Arts Experience held a special program on the downtown campus of the University at Albany.
In anticipation of the Zimmerman decision, the groups made plans several weeks in advance of the six-woman jury's decision to acquit Zimmerman. The group was initially split with half voting to acquit, two for manslaughter and one for second-degree murder, according to the first juror to speak publicly.
The youth program examined situations like the one Trayvon Martin was involved in prior to his death, as well as others youth may encounter with law enforcement officers and other persons in authoritative positions.
Students discussed how to overcome stereotypes in their community and learned about their rights. A lawyer, criminal justice expert, former prisoner and educator on-hand helped students understand the case.
The not guilty verdict in the murder case against George Zimmerman has some teens here in Albany that attended the seminar upset at American culture.
"A man can go to jail for killing dogs, but I can just follow a man around and kill him and say ‘it's self-defense,'" said 17-year-old Sincere Dupree. "It's not fair."
Dupree attended a seminar at the University at Albany on Tuesday. He thinks the outcome wasn't fair because he believes Trayvon Martin was profiled, like he is.
"I think I'm targeted because I'm black," said Dupree. "Because there's so many stereotypes out there."
He says similar deadly outcomes are common on his block.
"It happens everyday," said Dupree, but he added that he wants to see change and would like to see the stereotypes to go away. That's why his message to other teens is clear.
"You can do more than just sell drugs and be a thug," said Dupree.
At the seminar teens watched skits to help them learn how to act appropriately. Jessica Gorman, a practicing attorney, spoke to teens at the seminar about their rights. She said regardless of the situation, safety should always be the focus.
"We want to keep things from escalating, we want everybody to go home alive and in one piece at the end of the day," said Gorman.
Anyone interested in learning more and would like to join the discussion about what people believe has changed since the George Zimmerman verdict, can do so this Thursday at the Albany African American Cultural Center located at 135 South Pearl Street in Albany. The meeting will begin at 1 p.m.
341 Northern Blvd., Albany, NY 12204
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