TAMPA - As protesters on the steps of Tampa's federal courthouse chanted "George guilty" and "we want justice," Marlene Reese hoped her two sons were learning an important lesson about flaws in the justice system.
Reese's boys, 10 and 11, wore hoodies similar to the one worn by Trayvon Martin the night he was shot to death walking back from a convenient store in Sanford.
"What am I supposed to tell my kids when they leave? Don't defend yourself?" said Reese. "It's not right," she said.
Reese, who's black, said she had no doubt that Zimmerman racially profiled Martin the night he confronted the 17-year old, and that her kids might someday face a similar situation.
"We have a right to walk down the street without anyone sitting up there profiling us like they are right now," Reese said.
Many demonstrators wore hoodies and carried cans of Arizona tea and bags of skittles, the same items Martin had when he was killed.
While attorneys on both sides of the Zimmerman case insisted that race was not a factor, some 200 protesters who marched through downtown Tampa had a decidedly different take.
"This is our calling to end racial oppression," said Veronica Antonio-Juarez of Tampa. She and many others demonstrating were angry that Zimmerman's actions will go unpunished.
"He's getting away with murdering a black and brown youth," Antonio-Juarez said. "We're here because our lives are just as valuable as anyone else's."
The Tampa protest was in conjunction with others that stretched from coast to coast, north and south.
Matt Hastings wore a hood as a tribute to Trayvon Martin, and was frustrated that despite a full trial, the jury did not render a guilty verdict.
"The court system has basically said that racist vigilanteism is ok as long as you can claim self-defense of as long as you're a white person," Hastings said.
"You know it's different for people of color."
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