For Rose Cooper, the story of 17-year-old Florida teen Trayvon Martin is a story of her own life. Cooper, a resident of Upper Chichester, lost her 33-year-old son Larry Douglas Carter to gun violence in 2010.
Carter was sitting outside near the William Penn Housing Development in Chester when he was killed. In March, James Armstrong was convicted in the death of Cooper’s son. When Cooper first heard the story of Martin, she cried.
“I did not cry for Trayvon,” Cooper said. “I cried for his parents, his family. As a parent no one wants to bury their child. When I found out about Martin it touched me to the core, because I know what the parents are going through right now, because I have been there and it’s a feeling that will never go away.
“I’m fortunate because justice came to me,” she added. “I’ve waited and prayed for the day that my son would get justice. I’m just hoping that day will also come for Martin’s parents. We have to let people know that we will continue to speak up and have rallies against violence if it means justice for our kids and loved ones.”
Cooper was just one of the 150 people that gathered at Memorial Park in Chester last Thursday, April 5 for the Trayvon Martin Rally.
The rally was held by The National Congress of Black Women Delco Chapter along with the Chester Chapter of the NAACP, Brothers of Concern, Inc, and members of the clergy and others organizations.
Martin, who was Black, was unarmed when he was fatally shot Feb. 26. The shooter was identified as George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old white Hispanic community watch coordinator. As the investigation continues, Zimmerman remains free after claiming self-defense under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. The shooting has stirred heated debates throughout the country over racism, self-defense and legal injustice. The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice are probing the incident.
“There are a lot of Trayvon Martins in the city of Chester,” said Nicole Cogdell, a member of the Brothers of Concern. “Unfortunately, a lot of us don’t value our children while they are here. We’re not listening and teaching them enough. We have to take their hands and make sure their eating right, being properly educated, and teach them the difference between right and wrong.
“If we really want to honor Trayvon Martin and Franklin Carter, who is from Chester and his case is still unsolved, we as a community need to speak up,” Nicole added. “Withholding key information that can help solve a case should no longer be an option for us. Just like we want Martin’s parents to get justice, we need to get justice for all the people in Chester who cases are still unsolved.”
Before speaking to the crowd, Chester Mayor John Linder said he had been thinking about Martin and recognizes many people are speculating about the details in the case.
“There are a lot Trayvons in the city,” he said. “Regardless of prior events between Zimmerman and Martin it was a gun that made the difference in the boy’s life. As we look at Trayvon, let’s take a look at ourselves as a community, so that we can see what we can do collectively. We have to work together to get the guns off the street and we have to work together to make this city a safer place, especially for our children.”