Hundreds Attend Center City Trayvon Martin Rally

Saturday, Jul 20, 2013  |  Updated 8:44 PM EDT
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Philadelphia was one of many cities that held rallies protesting the verdict in the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin trial. NBC10's Monique Braxton spoke to some of the protesters.

NBC10.com - Monique Braxton

Philadelphia was one of many cities that held rallies protesting the verdict in the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin trial. NBC10's Monique Braxton spoke to some of the protesters.

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Hundreds gathered in front of the federal court building in Philadelphia one week after jurors acquitted a former Florida neighborhood watch volunteer in the killing of an unarmed teen.

Around 700 protesters spilled over onto 601 Market Street in front of the James A. Byrne Federal Court House, eventually blocking the entire thoroughfare as they waved signs, chanted and listened to speeches. Market Street was closed during the rally but has since reopened.

The protest was peaceful and no incidents were reported. Some participants also brought their children along with them.

"Justice for Trayvon'' rallies were slated in more than 100 cities to call for federal civil rights charges in the February 2012 slaying of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, who successfully argued self-defense.

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Undeterred by temperatures in the 90s and high humidity, participants strained to hear the speakers and joined in with chants including "We are one'' and "No justice, no peace.''

One sign in the crowd read ``Who's next?'' and another ``Black boys' lives have value,'' while a third said "Amend the (f)laws.''

Standing in the shade next to the court building, Keith Lyons, 53, of north Philadelphia, pointed out a sign far in front that said ``R.I.P. Trayvon. We are back in the 1960s again.''

"It feels like that,'' said Valerie Washington, 49, of the Germantown section of the city.

Both said they hoped that Zimmerman would be held to account in federal or civil court.

"Something needs to be done,'' Washington said. "I think it's a travesty of justice.''

Ronald Page, 66, of Burlington, N.J., said he wanted to protest injustices that he believed went far beyond the Sanford, Fla., verdict.

"I think we should focus on the draconian justice system and how it has been focused on minorities,'' he said.

Paula Peebles of the Philly National Action Network says she's hoping the protests will lead to the Department of Justice filing charges against Zimmerman.

"The united cry is for the federal government, the Department of Justice, to complete the investigation," she said.

The case has become a flashpoint in national debates over self-defense laws, guns, and race relations.

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