Their message was in their medium. They gathered in a large group, clad in hoodies, standing in solidarity, dressed like the fallen teen.
In a town founded on and lauded for its diversity, they spoke of how what happened to Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla., on Feb. 26 could have happened to anyone and could have happened anywhere.
"Many of us, as parents, feel what the Martin family is feeling because Trayvon could've been one of our children," said the Rev. Robert Turner, pastor at St. John Baptist Church, at a prayer vigil Monday evening that attracted some 400 people to his Long Reach church.
- Pictures: Trayvon Martin Vigil
- Commentary: Four men in Florida stand their ground and two of them wind up dead
- Prayer vigil for Trayvon Martin to be held in Columbia
- Pictures: Baltimore celebrities in hoodies for Trayvon Martin
- Pictures: Rallies for Trayvon Martin
- 'Hoodie Sunday' services
- Trayvon Martin
See more topics »
9055 Tamar Dr, Columbia, MD 21045, USA
"Our young children are wearing hoodies because they recognize that Trayvon could've been one of them," said Turner, president of the African American Coalition of Howard County, which organized the vigil. "We're wearing hoodies in symbolic unity to call for justice."
Deidre Sykes sat in a church pew with her teenage son, J.D., to her left and her 11-year-old daughter, Jaidyn, to her right, all three wearing hoodies. She drew a comparison between J.D. and Martin, who was 17.
"This is my son. My son is 17," Sykes said. "Living in Columbia you don't think this kind of thing would happen, but I wanted to bring my kids out and enlighten them to the world, unfortunately."
Sykes and her kids were among the overflow crowd — an overwhelming majority of whom were wearing hoodies.
"The kids in the community are very concerned about this, and parents are concerned," coalition member Sherman Howell said before the vigil.
J.D. Sykes, a senior at Wilde Lake, said the death of Trayvon Martin was "eye-opening" to him.
"This kind of thing could happen to me," he said. "There's danger in every corner, and just going to your friend's house, to school, you could possibly be targeted."
Martin was wearing a hoodie and carrying a bag of Skittles and a bottle of iced tea when he drew the suspicion of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has said he followed Martin because he did not recognize the teen and because of recent burglaries in the area. The 28-year-old man told police he shot Martin in self-defense after being attacked, citing Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law.
Martin and his father were visiting his father's girlfriend, who lived in that neighborhood.
On Monday, a special prosecutor looking into the case said she would not be seeking a grand jury indictment against Zimmerman, eliminating the possibility of a first-degree murder charge. However, Angela Corey said she could still seek charges against Zimmerman. The case remains under investigation.
'I am Trayvon'
Danielle Hunley, a 13-year-old from Hanover, sat in a rear row of the church, allowing the sign attached to the back of her hoodie to be seen clearly: "I Am Trayvon Martin."
She had a purple packet of Wild Berry Skittles and a green bottle of Arizona Green Tea.
"He shouldn't have died," she said. "He was innocent. He was a good person. He really didn't do anything. All he was doing was going home."
Nashiya Mabery, who was seated next to Hunley, said she was worried that race makes others a target.
"I feel like me being an African American is a discouragement," said the 15-year-old Hanover resident. "Just because we're black, they get to shoot us, and that's not right."