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Trayvon Martin: Celebrities, others turn to social media to call for justice

Crime, Law and JusticeTwitter, Inc.Sanford Police DepartmentSpike LeeGabrielle Union

From celebrity tweets to a "Million Hoodies March," social media is once again playing a key role in spreading a message — the latest being the ever-growing chorus of people calling for justice in the fatal shooting of teenager Trayvon Martin.

A host of stars, including filmmaker Spike Lee, music mogul Russell Simmons and actress Gabrielle Union have used Twitter to spread word of Trayvon's death and bring attention to a petition calling for criminal charges against shooter George Zimmerman.

That petition, launched by Trayvon's parents on Change.org, garnered more than 615,000 signatures by Tuesday.

It's the fastest-growing petition that's been run through the site, said Jonathan Perri, a senior campaigner with Change.org.

"I think people are disappointed in the Sanford Police Department. I think it just seems too unjust," Perri said. "It's just really moving people to find some way to get involved.

MC Hammer took to his Twitter account to promote the petition, as did actress Mia Farrow.

Union tweeted: "#TrayvonMartin case has exposed some ppl as monsters...not just Zimmerman but ANY1 who makes excuses 4 a man who kills an unarmed child."

Another petition, launched on SignOn.org, asks for signatures "to protect private citizens from gun violence and inept law enforcement.

Maria Roach, a documentary producer in Maryland who used to live in Central Florida, launched the petition because she felt frustrated with Sanford police and its handling of the case.

Roach, the mother of two boys, said she saw the pictures of Trayvon, and thought he looks like an older version of her one son.

"Tears welled up in my eyes," she said.

Roach said she blasted the story on her Facebook and Twitter accounts, but she felt more had to be done to spread awareness about Trayvon's case.

"I was fuming, and this was the way for me to channel my sadness and my anger," Roach said.

By Tuesday, the petition had more than 280,000 signatures.

Meanwhile, people across the country used social media to bring awareness to Trayvon's death in other ways.

A "Million Hoodies March for Trayvon Martin" was organized through Facebook, in which people are invited to march in New York City on Wednesday night.

Event organizers, in a video posted to the page Tuesday, said they want to mobilize 1 million people to sign the Change.org petition.

They encourage viewers to wear hoodies — what Trayvon was wearing the night he was killed — on Wednesday and to post a photo of themselves on their social media accounts.

apavuk@tribune.com or 407-420-5735

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Crime, Law and JusticeTwitter, Inc.Sanford Police DepartmentSpike LeeGabrielle Union
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