Two Oklahoma City ministers called their teenage grandsons up to the altar and the four of them faced the crowd sitting in the church pews on Wednesday.
Trayvon Martin looked like them — young and black, one of the clergymen said, pointing to the teens.
“You want to know why we're here? We're here because as people of faith and as people concerned about our community — mothers and fathers, grandmothers and Paw-Paws — we're here because we love our children,” Arnelious Crenshaw Jr., minister of Northeast Church of Christ, said at a community forum at Fairview Baptist Church.
“We're here so we can say to our sons and daughters, to our grandsons and granddaughters, that we tried to get something done to help ensure that there is not another Trayvon Martin in Oklahoma City.”
The poignant moment came at the beginning of the Wednesday's forum hosted by Crenshaw's church and Fairview, led by the Rev. J.A. Reed Jr.
The clergy leaders said the forum was held to discuss lessons learned from the 2012 shooting of Martin, an unarmed Florida teen, and the subsequent trial and acquittal of George Zimmerman, the neighborhood watchman who shot him, who identifies himself as Hispanic. Martin's shooting created a furor around the nation, particularly among blacks who said he was a target of racial profiling.
Zimmerman's July 13 acquittal on second-degree murder charges, led to protest rallies around the nation and reignited a national discussion about racial profiling, self-defense laws and gun control.
About 400 people attended Wednesday's event in Oklahoma City, which included a diverse group of panelists — from a police officer, an attorney and several judges, to pastors, a legislator and an educator. Each speaker shared their opinions along with answers to questions given to them beforehand.
The gathering lasted for more than two hours as the crowd listened attentively to the presentations. Racial profiling, the need for parents to become more involved in their children's education, and activities both inside and outside school were among the topics that were discussed during the event.
Carlton Hardman, a master sergeant with the Oklahoma City Police Department, told the crowd that law officers have the right to ask basic questions like a person's name, address, where they are going and what they are doing.
Cut pounds of stomach fat every week by using this 1 weird old tip.