by Paul Bowers
After this past weekend's not guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, a protest rally has been planned for Sat. July 20 from noon to 2 p.m. at the U.S. Custom House, 200 East Bay St.
"The message is justice for Trayvon," says Elder James Johnson, a North Charleston pastor and activist. Johnson says he expects to see about 300 people at the event, where speakers will include state Rep. Wendell Gilliard, Charleston NAACP President Dot Scott, area pastors, and leaders from Johnson's civil-rights group The Coalition.
The rally has been tentatively titled "Trayvon Martin: Start of a Movement," and topics discussed will include the Zimmerman case, black on black crime, racial profiling in Charleston and North Charleston, and local governments' "unfair spending in the upscale community versus the black community," Johnson says. Johnson is encouraging people who attend to make signs to hold at the rally.
The event will take place at the same date and time as the National Day of Action Vigils in more than 100 cities across the country, organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network. Johnson says he intends to work in conjunction with the national protests, but the National Action Network website does not list Charleston as a participating city.