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New London – About 200 people gathered at the Parade Plaza Sunday afternoon to call for justice in the case of Trayvon Martin, the African-American 17-year-old shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Fla., and to bring attention to racial profiling and other racist practices speakers said has been occurring in New London.
"We're supporting Trayvon Martin and his family, but we're also confronted with the same problems here in New London," said Donald Williams, president of the New London chapter of the NAACP, organizer of the rally.
Many in the racially mixed crowd, which included many teenagers, wore hooded sweatshirts, the same clothing Martin was wearing, in protest against stereotypes based on clothing and race. Several in the crowd held signs with slogans such as, "Justice for Trayvon," and "Stop Racial Profiling."
Speakers included Alfred Mayo, who would have been the first black firefighter hired by the city since 1978, but was fired in December just days before graduating from the state fire academy. He has since has alleged he was a victim of racial discrimination.
Other speakers said they were speaking out because African American youth need to grow up without fear in their communities.
"They are the future Trayvons," said Karen Clark of New London, referring to her grandchildren, I-jhay McLeod, 11, and Azarria Darden, 4, standing next to her. "I don't want them to grow up thinking they have to duck and hide."