PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

July 15, 2013

Unity sought from death of Trayvon Martin

Sherry Koonce
The Port Arthur News

PORT ARTHUR — Under the night sky in downtown Port Arthur Monday about 100 or more people gathered in an effort to bring some sense to the death of Trayvon Martin — to do what they could to ensure that the life lost too soon was not in vain.

“This is not a black, white, Mexican, Vietnamese issue. It is a people issues,” Hilton Kelley, organizer for the Trayvon Martin Candlelight Vigil, said. “It is an epidemic across our community. It is time to have a voice, a time to be heard, and that time is now.”

Kelley called for people of all races to gather for a chance to reflect on the life and death of the unarmed 17-year-old, who died from a gunshot wound inflicted by George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch coordinator who was acquitted of the death by a Florida jury on Saturday.

The verdict for many as surprising as it was wrong.

“I am concerned about what happened with the Trayvon case,” Stacy Landrio, 51, of Port Arthur, said. “Our forefathers fought so hard for equality, that I was surprised at this verdict.”

Jack Chatman, a representative for the Port Arthur Ministers Conference, said he hoped Trayvon’s death would serve as a wake-up call, that there is still much work to the done to ensure equality for all races.

“We are living in a violent and hateful time in our country. It is just an atrocity when we are living where a child can die and all we are worried about is the letter of the law,” Chatman said. “I hope people can learn it is a time for the average citizen to stand up and allow our voices to be heard by our elected officials and appointed officials.”

Phillip Cole, 45, of Port Arthur attended the event with his family, wife Placida and daughter Pharrah, 11. The couple also have a son, 17-year-old Phillip Cole III, who was not in attendance.

Cole lauded Trayvon’s parents’ call for peace, even after their son was killed, and justice was not found.

“It would have not honored his death with violence,” Cole said.

Cole said he hopes Trayvon’s death would highlight the need to end racial profiling, stereotyping people because of the race, or the way they are dressed.

Unity and learning how to mobilize is the key to overcoming adversity, Kelley said.

“Every ethnicity has their own set of issues. It is time to come together, and truly eliminate racism,” Kelley said.

Gazing at the crowd assembled at Kelley’s Kitchen, 67-year-old Glenn Alexander, of Port Arthur, said perhaps some good could come from the teen’s death.

“Trayvon’s dying is not in vain because this crowd would not have been assembled without his death,” Alexander said.

E-mail: skoonce@panews.com

Twitter: skooncePANews