OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Activists were set to rally in Oakland Monday to mark the beginning of the Florida trial of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer charged with second-degree murder for the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year.

D’Andre Teeter of the Bay Area chapter of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network, said the rally will begin at 3:30 p.m. at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland, where Oscar Grant III was fatally shot by a BART police officer on Jan. 1, 2009.

Teeter said rally participants will march to 14th Street and Broadway in downtown Oakland at 5 p.m.

He said rally leaders are asking participants and others to wear hoodies today in honor of Martin, who was wearing a hoodie when he was shot by Zimmerman, now 29, in Sanford, Florida, on Feb. 26, 2012.

Zimmerman’s attorneys are expected to argue at his trial that he acted in self-defense, as he told 911 dispatchers that he was following a suspicious person in his gated community.

However, Martin was unarmed and was carrying only iced tea and a pack of Skittles at the time of the confrontation.

Teeter said activists were holding rallies today in Oakland and other cities across the country, including Los Angeles, New York, Dallas and Detroit, because they are concerned Zimmerman could be acquitted.

He said, “It took tens of thousands of letters to even get the authorities to bring charges against him.”

Martin was black, and Teeter said activists are concerned about what he described as “the demonization of Trayvon Martin and, by implication, of other black and Latino youths” by Zimmerman’s defense lawyers.

The theme of Monday’s rallies is “National Hoodie Day – We Are all Trayvon Martin.”

Teeter said that among those who are traveling to Florida to watch Zimmerman’s trial is Cephus Johnson, Oscar Grant’s uncle.

Grant, a Hayward resident who was also black, was unarmed when he was shot in the back on the platform of the Fruitvale BART station by former BART police officer Johannes Mehserle.

Mehserle, who claimed he meant to fire his Taser, not his service weapon, was later convicted of involuntary manslaughter.



(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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