NEW ORLEANS - Carrying signs and wearing hoodies, hundreds gathered in front of the federal courthouse in New Orleans, hoping to send a message.
“This is really the beginning of a national mobilization for justice for Trayvon Martin, but also a lot broader, it's really a new generation saying we're going to work hard for the American ideals of justice,” said Marc Morial, president and CEO of the National Urban League and former New Orleans mayor.
New Orleans was one of 100 cities across the nation to hold a rally seeking “Justice for Trayvon.”
It's an act of solidarity after George Zimmerman's acquittal last weekend. Zimmerman said he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teen, in self-defense.
The Florida shooting sparked a national conversation about what many believe is racial profiling. At the rally, some attendees say the topic hits close to home.
“That's for any young black male it could happen to. We've been profiled so many years and this has got to stop,” said Isabella Jones, of New Orleans.
The purpose of the rally, and others across the country Saturday, was to call for the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct a full and open investigation into the circumstances surrounding Martin’s death.
“Hopefully all of us coming out here nationwide, we'll make a difference,” said Ryne Mashia, of Destrehan.
“This is the first step in a very long journey,” said Erika McConduit, Interim President & CEO of the Urban League’s New Orleans branch.
Civil rights leaders are also calling for the repeal of Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, which allows the use of deadly force if you feel threatened, and doesn't require you to retreat first. Many states have similar laws.
“If we don't get justice, real justice and the absurd Stand Your Ground law is not abolished, what do we stand for?” asked C. Robert Holloway, New Orleans.
“This is not a one day event, what's going to be even more important is that we keep this going, that we get involved with our civic affairs,” said Danatus King, president of the New Orleans branch of the NAACP.
The U.S. Department of Justice has launched an investigation into Martin's death.
They will decide whether to file federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.