The rally met in front of a Wendy's Hamburgers around 4:30 p.m. on Thursday and proceeded down Fowler Avenue to three other fast food chains. The original plan was to cross the highway and wrap up at a Kentucky Fried Chicken on the other side but after more than 20 minutes of heavy rain, organizers dispersed the crowd around 5:30 p.m.
Many of those in attendance wore labor union t-shirts. Dustin Ponder, who describes himself as a rank-and-file member of the Teamsters at UPS, said the unions were there to support and educate fast food workers.
Hundreds of people in the Tampa Bay area rallied this weekend wearing shirts, carrying signs and chanting, saying "We are Trayvon." Two rallies, one in St Petersburg and one in Tampa, were organized after last weeks not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Sanford, where Zimmerman was charged with second degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Some in attendance were there to listen, some to lend support, and some to be heard.
On Friday a Unity and Justice rally was held in Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg under threatening skies. The tenor of the rally was peaceful as speakers challenged the multi-race audience of about 85 people to action. They suggested contacting their elected officials about the Florida Stand Your Ground law and educating themselves about public officials before getting out to vote. The event ended with a march to city hall in downtown St Petersburg.
On Saturday an estimated 400 people attended a Justice for Trayvon rally in front of the federal courthouse in downtown Tampa. Many of them expressed the same sentiment as the Friday rally, calling for a repeal of the Stand Your Ground law, federal action against George Zimmerman, and expressing a bond with the Martin family, some of whom were in attendance.
Sunday, May 19, marked the Golden Anniversary of the annual Eckerd College graduation commencement in Saint Petersburg. More than 500 graduates, their families and well-wishers, the faculty and the board of trustees all gathered under a circus-styled big top for the ceremony. This year’s commencement address was delivered by Bill McKibben, a world-renowned environmental activist and educator.
McKibben has written several books on global warming and alternative energy, and is the founder of the grassroots climate movement 350.org. The 350 number refers to the amount of CO2 in parts per million which is the safe upper limit on a human tolerance scale.
Scientists, including McKibben, assert that an accelerated greenhouse effect will be the outcome if 350 ppm is exceeded, and that translates directly into bizarre and erratic climate change. 350.org is behind what's considered to be the largest globally coordinated protest, with 5,200 simultaneous demonstrations in 181 countries.
As Floridians, hurricanes are routine. We are conditioned to it, the pace of preparation every year like clockwork. But as one New Yorker wrote me this morning, "Yes, you guys have hurricanes down there unfortunately. NYC does not, sadly."
So here are some ways people in the area are helping or can help.