As students at numerous schools across South Florida walked out Friday to protest the lack of an arrest in the Trayvon Martin shooting, students at Miami’s Krop Senior High School honored their fallen classmate in a slightly different fashion.
When the bell rang at 2:20 p.m., hundreds of Krop kids held an orderly walkout, leaving classrooms with posters and megaphones. They chanted for justice as they carried signs and a big banner that everybody wrote their names and sentiments on.
Whether they knew Martin, 17, or not, the students wrote their thoughts about him or his story on brightly colored pieces of paper. Then they brought them together to create a “chain of life” with hundreds of links, nearly a month after the Krop junior’s death.
“It really helps with the coping of losing a friend, and we just really thought that we needed a way to express our feelings, and at the same time show that we do demand change,” said Ashley Aristide, a friend who knew Martin for a long time. “We want justice in Trayvon’s honor.”
Martin, who lived in Miami Gardens, was shot and killed by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Feb. 26 in Sanford. He was visiting with his father at his father’s girlfriend’s home in a gated community there and was walking back from a nearby convenience store when the shooting happened.
“The most shocking thing, he’s been killed almost a month now, and his killer is still not yet arrested,” Aristide said of Zimmerman, 28, who told police he acted in self-defense. The police chief and prosecutor overseeing the case stepped aside yesterday in the face of public fury about law enforcement’s handling of it.
Classmate Edward Roberson said Martin’s shooting is “hurting kids out here because they know it could have been any of them.”
“Everybody writes their thoughts about Trayvon, whether they knew him or not, it’s just about us coming together as a student body, uniting as one to show that we can cope with this. We can get through this together,” he said of the chain project.
Kia Archer, a friend who knew Martin since the seventh grade, said he was funny, quiet, “and he would walk me home sometimes randomly. He was the brother I never had.”
“It’s devastating to know that one of your friends you’ve known for so long has passed away so quickly,” she said, tears rolling down her face.
Krop administrators pointed out that unlike at other schools that have held demonstrations for Martin, their students didn’t leave school chaotically or miss class. That was in keeping with the wishes of Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton, who told the Miami-Dade School Board that while she agreed there should be support for her son, she does not condone students walking out of school.
Right after Martin’s died, an announcement was made about at Krop. Officials brought in grief counselors.
School administrators said that Martin’s family had asked them not to do anything publicly in wake of his death. Many kids asked to do something to honor the teen so they decided to have an event in the spirit of the family’s wishes.
The plan is to display the chain of life and the banner at the school for a while, then give them to Martin’s family.
Krop Senior High has lined up more events to remember Martin for early next week.
On Monday, the school will hold a black out day where everybody is supposed to wear black in mourning. And on Tuesday, the school will plant a tree in his memory.
Student body president Staci Marvin said Friday’s project would help Krop students “express their feelings for sure.”
“That’s the most important thing,” she said. “And celebrate his life.”