The Highlander Research and Education Center sends our love and special thoughts to the family of Trayvon Martin in the wake of the acquittal of George Zimmerman, and joins the NAACP and and other organizations in calling on the Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against George Zimmerman for the taking of Trayvon’s life. While the only true justice would be to live in a world where Trayvon is still walking around without being targeted for the color of his skin, civil rights charges lift up the life and loss of this youth and and strive to bring some accountability to the system and to Zimmerman.

It is particularly poignant to us that the no-guilty verdict came down on the eve of Highlander’s 14th annual Seeds of Fire leadership and organizing camp. As we write, 45 youth and adult allies are gathering on the Highlander hill for eight days of skill and relationship building. The SOF program brings together youth from African American communities, immigrant communities and Appalachia, all youth at risk in a system built on and maintained by structural racism.

We are deeply saddened and angered by the no guilty verdict. Unfortunately, we are not surprised. We recommit ourselves to the work to build a racially just society that values the lives of all people and refuses to sacrifice Black people, especially Black male youth, to scapegoating, stereotypes and racist violence.

To sign a petition in solidarity, go to