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Trayvon Martin vigil
Trayvon Martin vigil: Hundreds of people marched from Centennial Park to the federal courthouse in downtown Fort Myers Saturday during a vigil for Trayvon Martin. Video by Amanda Inscore/news-press.com.
Katelyn Jones, left, Tracy Jones, center, and Tiana Pearson lead a march for Trayvon Martin from Centennial Park to the federal courthouse in downtown Fort Myers tonight. / Amanda Inscore/news-press.com

If you go

>> What: March, rally and vigil for Trayvon Martin
>> When and where: Today, 7 p.m., march begins at Naples Pier and continues down Third Avenue; 7:30 p.m., rally at Naples Pier; 8:30 p.m. candlelight vigil on beach
Information: Contact Collier County NAACP at naacp@naacpcolliercounty.com or 455-2886

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Hundreds of people gathered in downtown Fort Myers on Saturday to join a nationwide movement for racial equality and to protest Florida’s “stand your ground” law.

The rally and march came one week after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Sanford.

The march started at Centennial Park. It was peaceful, held under the watchful eyes of some Fort Myers police officers as the crowd made its way to the federal courthouse at the corner of Monroe and First streets.

Fort Myers resident Tracy Jones organized the event. Her 13-year-old cousin, Desmond Jones, was gunned down in 2011. His murder remains unsolved.

“I was touched by what happened,” Jones said. “We have to come together to stop the violence.”

Kim Fain, of Lehigh Acres, helped lead the rally. She said she respects the jury’s decision, but there needs to be a change and the “stand your ground” law needs to be repealed.

“We here in our own community, if we feel things aren’t just, we need to stand up and say something,” Fain said.

Once the marchers reached the federal courthouse, the crowd swelled with many curious onlookers who then joined the rally. Their voices carried down First Street as they chanted for change and encouraged people to vote. Many of the marchers wore hoodies, t-shirts bearing Trayvon’s likeness, and carried signs. The crowd included people from all races and of all ages, from children in strollers to elders who didn’t agree with the Zimmerman verdict.

There were at least 100 similar events held across the country Saturday. Another is planned in Naples tonight at the pier.

Anita McFadden, of Fort Myers, held a sign that read “Trayvon, you’re in our hearts forever.” She said she had to show her support because “a young child died, and it shouldn’t have happened.

“There needs to be a change to the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law … it’s a license to kill,” she said.

Fort Myers resident Larry Aguilar said he has three children, and he was attending to show his support to Trayvon’s parents. “Not a day will go by that they won’t think about how their son’s life ended,” he said.

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Trayvon’s father, Tracy, attended the Miami rally, where he said he would continue to fight for justice.

Former neighborhood watch guard Zimmerman fatally shot Martin on the night of Feb. 26, 2012, after the two fought during a confrontation in a gated community in the central Florida city of Sanford, 245 miles north of Miami. Zimmerman lived in the complex; Martin was there visiting his father and his father's fiancee.

Prosecutors and Martin's parents claimed Zimmerman was racially profiling Martin, who was black. Zimmerman, who successfully claimed that he was protecting himself when he shot Martin, identifies himself as Hispanic.

Madeleine Doran went before the crowd in Fort Myers and told them she was on their side. “My skin is not your color, but I feel your pain,” she said.

Doran said everyone heard about how Zimmerman felt afraid, enough to take a young boy’s life, but no one talked about how afraid Trayvon must have felt. Her speech was met with applause.

She said she felt so strongly that justice hadn’t been served that she had to join the rally.

“I’ve seen firsthand the prejudice that colored people face, but no one knows what they go through,” she said.

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