NEW YORK – A majority of New York City Council members, dressed in hoodies and holding Skittles candies and bottles of iced tea, held a press conference in front of City Hall this morning to express their solidarity with the family of Trayvon Martin and to express their outrage at the fact that his murderer, George Zimmerman, has still not been arrested.

A resolution expressing the council’s outrage was initiated by council members Letitia James, D-Brooklyn, and Melissa Mark-Viverito, D-Manhattan.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn, D-Manhattan, announced that she will be introducing the resolution with Mark-Viverito and James, and that it “will condemn the killing, the weaknesses in its investigation and the lack of an arrest.”

“Our resolution,” said Quinn, “Will also call for an examination of ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws nationwide, including their impact on increasing the flow of illegal guns to New York City.”

Quinn continued, “Trayvon Martin was killed for his gender and his race. By releasing George Zimmerman, the Sanford police was saying it doesn’t matter.”

Councilwoman James declared, “The demonization of black men has got to stop.”

Robert Jackson, a member of the City Council from Washington Heights in Manhattan, said, “We have a quorum,” and called for a symbolic voice vote right on the spot. All present said, “Yea.”

Deborah Rose, a council member from Staten Island and head of the Council’s civil rights committee, said, “Wearing a hoodie should not be a death sentence.” Jumaane D. Williams, a council member from Brooklyn pointed out that the same problem exists in New York: “We have had an increase in local people murdered too,” he said.

He reminded the crowd of the case of Amari Grahram, who was recently murdered in his own bathroom by the NYPD. Rose also pointed out that Republicans upstate had introduced a “Stand Your Ground” law into the State Senate. She declared, “We will not let it pass!”

Earlier, in what turned out to be a day of unity at City Hall, a predominantly Latino crowd of community, labor, youth and student leaders attended a press conference entitled “One voice-One Vote”, “One Hundred Organizations United to get out the Vote.”

The press conference announced a massive campaign to register New York City voters. Washington Heights Councilmember Ydonis Rodriquez spoke at the event.



Jarvis Tyner
Jarvis Tyner

Jarvis Tyner is executive vice chair of the Communist Party USA and a long-time member of the party's national board.. He was a founding member of the Black Radical Congress and served on its national coordinating committee for five years.

Tyner was born in the Mill Creek community of West Philadelphia in 1941 and graduated from West Philadelphia High School. He joined the Communist Party USA at the age of 20. After several years working in various industrial jobs in the Philadelphia area, where he was a member of the Amalgamated Lithographers and the Teamsters union, he moved to New York in 1967 to become the national chair of the DuBois Clubs of America, and later founding chair of the Young Workers Liberation League. He was the Communist Party USA candidate for vice president of the U.S. in 1972 and 1976, running with party leader Gus Hall.

As a leader of the CPUSA Tyner has been an active public spokesperson against racism, imperialism and war. He has written numerous articles and pamphlets and appears on the media, campuses and in other public venues advocating for peace, equality and the socialist alternative. He currently resides in the Inwood section of Manhattan, N.Y., is married and the father of four adult children and one grandchild.