About 125 people gathered at a vigil service Sunday evening at Shir Tikvah synagogue in south Minneapolis to remember Trayvon Martin’s memory and affirm their own feelings and values.
Speakers at the 45-minute indoor service called the not-guilty verdicts for George Zimmerman a heartbreaking injustice, but vowed that the jury’s decision would not break the spirits or change the convictions of people searching for justice and racial equality.
Rabbi Michael Latz said he organized the vigil in order to offer a space for people to come together and support each other. “We’ve seen in the past after moments like this, some horrible deaths or beatings, where people don’t have a good healthy place to turn their anger or their grief or their sorrow or their confusion,” he said. “That’s what a sanctuary is for, that’s what a spiritual community is for: to talk about the really tough stuff.”
The program included poems, prayers and songs, and emphasized the goal of creating a society where everyone is free and safe and loved. Those attending said they came from various houses of worship and appreciated the service.
Joci Tilsen, who drove from Hudson, Wis., said she was deeply disturbed that a young unarmed black man was shot and killed, and that Zimmerman was acquitted. “I feel it puts at risk all of our young children, especially the young children of color in all of our communities, and I’m uncomfortable living in a society that says it’s OK,” she said.
“It’s definitely unfortunate how it all ended up,” said Cameron Kinghorn, a University of Minnesota student, referring to the jury’s decision. “Maybe they had to follow the law, but it’s still unfair.”
Vina Kay, who lives in the neighborhood and saw the vigil notice on Facebook, said she was heartsick about the verdict and glad to do something positive.
“It’s nice to be with other community members who may be sad, but are also hopeful,” she said.