Dream Defenders hoped to honor killing of Trayvon Martin

Remembering Trayvon Martin nine years after his death. Photo by Gabrielle Hall

Friday, Feb. 26, marked the ninth anniversary of the killing of Trayvon Martin, a then 17-year-old Black teenager.

This fateful incident is forever remembered across the country.

In honor of Martin, Dream Defenders of Tallahassee hosted “A Day of Remembrance for Trayvon Martin.”  The event was to be held around the EternalFlame on FAMU’s campus long with a wreath-laying ceremony.

That didn’t happen. FAMU is adhering to strict COVID-19 guidelines and did not allow  the event to be held.

Marie Rattigan, lead organizer of the Dream Defenders and aFAMU alumna, says she wishes the day could have gone better than it did in terms of honoring Martin.

“Today makes nine years since the death of Trayvon Martin and a lot of people became organizers because of Trayvon Martin, including myself,” Rattigan said. “I always consider Trayvon Martin to be my brother because he could have been my brother.”

Nine years ago, Martin was tragically shot and killed by a neighborhood  watch man, George Zimmerman. Zimmerman suspected Martin to be up to criminal activity, approaching him when he was asked not to engage. Martin was killed while defending himself from Zimmerman. The Stand Your Ground law protected Zimmerman, which led to a non-guilty verdict.

Nine years later, people around the country continue to remember Martin.

Rattigan reflected on her own feelings during the event.

“I went back on Facebook last night and nine years ago, I posted for kids at my high school to participate in a walk that I was doing in honor of Trayvon,” Rattigan said. “Fast forward nine years and I’m still doing the same thing I was doing nine years ago.”

The event was supposed to be held from 12-3 p.m. Friday, with the wreath and picture still in place. But FAMU officials removed the wreath and picture approximately an hour later. Although the event was not successful, Rattigan says Dream Defenders will continue to keep Martin’s legacy alive.

“Dream Defenders was founded after the verdict of Trayvon Martin,” Rattigan said. “For 30 nights and 31 days, Dream Defenders occupied the Capitol demanding repeal for the Stand Your Ground law. We sparked a movement between Black, Brown, Latinx people to not only fight for justice for Trayvon but so many countless others like him who deserve justice.”

To get involved with Dream Defenders Tallahassee, there will be a general body meeting held on March 10: “Rattlers standing for social justice,” a panel discussion about FAMU’s involvement in fighting for social change. The meeting will begin at 7 p.m.via Zoom.