Trayvon Martin’s parents want nothing to do with the “Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee,” a fringe network of radicals linked to marchers calling for “dead cops” at a December 13 New York City protest.
“Our family is in no way affiliated with the ‘Trayvon Martin Organizing Committee,’ and we adamantly reject its unauthorized use of our son’s name recently to carry a message of violence,” said Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton in a statement provided to The Daily Beast by Daryl Parks, chairman of the board of directors of the Trayvon Martin Foundation and legal counsel to the Martin family. “As we have stated repeatedly in the past, our family rejects any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement and to our community in general. It cannot and will not be tolerated. We must work together to peacefully bring about change to our communities. Violence is never the answer.”
The Martin family’s call for nonviolence echoes a statement from the daughter of Eric Garner, the New York City man who died after a police officer used a banned chokehold to arrest him. A Staten Island grand jury’s decision not to bring criminal charges against the officer sparked the current protests in New York City.
“I just had to come out and let their family know that we stand with them, and I’m going to send my prayers and condolences to all the families who are suffering through this tragedy,” she said.
“I was never anti-police,” Garner told ABC News. “Like I said before, I have family that’s in the NYPD that I’ve grown up around, family reunions and everything, so my family, you know, we’re not anti-police.”
The statements from Garner’s daughter and Martin’s parents come at a moment of intense debate over the protest movement in New York City and elsewhere. While many have attempted to smear the entire protest movement as a call for dead cops, others, including Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and even New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have denied that any such chant occurred, despite the video evidence. De Blasio acknowledged that there were a “few who do not represent the majority, who are saying unacceptable things, who shouldn’t be saying those things,” but he denied that any such chant had occurred at the December 13 protest when the video was recorded.
On Monday, de Blasio called for a temporary halt to protests until after the funerals of the two slain officers. “I would ask any organizations that are planning any events about politics or protests, let’s do that another day,” the mayor said.
On Tuesday night, hundreds of protesters ignored the mayor’s call and staged rallies and marches in the city.
An organizer for the Answer Coalition, which led one of the marches Tuesday night, told Capital New York that heeding the mayor’s request would have been “a capitulation to the police, and to their supporters, who are trying to stop this movement, and are looking for ways to slow this movement down.”
The Answer organizer, Eugene Puryear, further told Capital: “We don’t believe this movement has any connection to what took place in Brooklyn, and we think any suggestion otherwise is a smear. And we reject the fact that these protests are creating an atmosphere of, you know, chaos, and vigilantism, as they suggest.”
At Grand Central Station, demonstrators held a die-in, Gothamist reported. There they held signs with messages like “More Justice = More Peace” and “The mayor has asked us not to protest; that makes it even more important that we continue to do so.”