Nearly 100 Harvard University students and supporters gathered outside the Langdell Library on the university’s campus Monday night to remember Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old student who was shot and killed a month ago in Sanford, Fla., by a neighborhood watch volunteer.
“We think it’s important to provide a place to process the tragedy of losing a young life in what seems to be a senseless act of violence,” said Reese Frogle, a law student at Harvard and president of the Black Law Students Association, which organized the vigil.
On Feb. 26, Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a volunteer in the local neighborhood watch. Martin had gone out to a convenience store.
Zimmerman told authorities he shot Martin in self-defense. Zimmerman has not been charged with any crime.
Martin’s killing has sparked national outrage, and those who participated in Monday’s vigil highlighted the sadness of the killing and their frustration with the justice system.
“The entire incident is an important conversation to have about race and our criminal justice system,” said Josh Green, 32, a law student at Harvard. “We all need to be part of the conversation if we want to make an impact.”
Some called for Zimmerman to be charged for murder, while others reflected on a life that was cut short.
“We’re doing this in reflection of a life that was lost too soon,” said Rachna Saha, 26, a Harvard law student and BLSA board member. “Everyone has different ways they express life and loss and this is a peaceful way to do that.”
While many were there to show solidarity, some also felt Monday’s vigil was a way to stand up to racism.
“I think it’s important after what happened to recognize ways in which this country violates the rights and lives of its people every day,” said Jessica Frisina, 23, a Harvard Law student. “We need to use this moment to move forward.”
As students and supporters shared their stories, Annie Lee, 25, a Harvard Law student, told the crowd that the issue and tragedy is not just a racial issue.
“The injustice that happened to Trayvon is not a black issue,” said Lee. “It is something that is pervasive and affects every one of us. We need to look inside and challenge ourselves because these issues pertain to all of us.”Patrick D. Rosso can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.