Black Activists Call for Calm at Planned Weekend Protests of Zimmerman Verdict
Washington, D.C. - With members of the civil rights lobby organizing new nationwide protests this coming weekend to continue to voice opposition to last Saturday's not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman case in Florida, members of the Project 21 black leadership network are calling for organizers to tone down their rhetoric and to help promote calm in the wake of earlier destructive protests and violent acts perpetrated against innocent bystanders and businesses in the alleged name of justice.
Radical organizer and MSNBC host Al Sharpton is planning protests at noon on Saturday in cities across America that include New York City, Detroit, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, among others. He told a rally in Washington, D.C. earlier this week: "People across the country will gather to show that we are not having a two- or three-day anger fit. This is a social movement for justice."
During an interview on "Your World with Neil Cavuto" on the Fox News Channel on July 16, Project 21 co-chairman Horace Cooper said that there is "no justification for the mayhem and the crime" that has been associated with several of the protests against Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin.
For example, Los Angeles rioters this past week attacked a Wal-Mart and other community businesses in the Crenshaw community. In Baltimore, a man was chased and beaten by a gang of people who yelled "This is for Trayvon" as the victim was punched and kicked. And in Houston, protestors who stopped traffic were caught on video assaulting a woman trying to avoid their blockade to transport her sick granddaughter to a nearby hospital.
In his Fox News Channel interview, Cooper added: "It's misplaced anger. The resources and time and energy about youth being killed in America could be far more constructively addressed to issues like the shootings that are occurring in cities… I'm not seeing much attention focused on it."
"No matter where one sides on the acquittal of George Zimmerman, there is one thing that both sides can agree on: there is nothing that can ever bring Trayvon Martin back to life. A jury of Mr. Zimmerman's peers heard the evidence and determined he was not guilty of second degree murder or manslaughter," said Project 21 member Christopher Arps. "Whatever one thinks of Reverend Sharpton's upcoming weekend demonstrations, and of him personally, his and other demonstrators' First Amendment right must be respected. That being said, they must respect and accept the verdict and conduct themselves in a non-violent way that honors Mr. Martin's memory and does not tarnish it with senseless violence allegedly in his name."
"It is time to denounce the angry rhetoric of the NAACP, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson in the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict and call for a new type of leadership," said Project 21 member Lisa Fritsch. "Their divisive and racial tone is completely unacceptable and we deserve better. If it is true power and respect that the black community desires, we can no longer be encouraged to be victimized savages. We have the power to heal with prayer, love and forgiveness. An olive branch of love and forgiveness towards families on both sides is what our nation most needs right now. If it is peace we want, let the peace be first in us."
Fritsch added: "Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, said: 'Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.' He said this during one of America's most racially divided times. He was not debating the cruelty and injustice of hate and racism, nor denying its power. He was instead speaking of the only way to overcome the stain of discrimination and hate. This is the rhetoric of true leadership."
Project 21 was formed in 1992 when the riots following the verdict in the Rodney King case revealed a need to highlight the diversity of opinion within the black community. For over 20 years, the volunteer members of the Project 21 black leadership network have provided conservative and free-market perspectives that, until that time, were largely unknown or ignored by the establishment media.
During the course of the Zimmerman trial, which was heard in the Seminole County (Florida) Circuit Court, Project 21 members provided commentary and continue to be available for interviews about the case and the issues surrounding it.
Project 21, a leading voice of black conservatives since 1992, is sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research (http://www.nationalcenter.org).