EAST ST. LOUIS (KPLR)-- The death of an African American teen in Florida continues to have an impact on folks here in this area. Several East St. Louis pastors joined more than 50 people in front of St. Luke A.M.E. Church for a prayer vigil. Rick Jackson is pastor of St. Luke, “We need to see that all of us have compassion learn how to have compassion for one another we are brother’s keeper.”
It was late last month when 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in Florida by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. JoAnne Parks, the wife of the East St. Louis Mayor, had this comment, “I do think the country needs to address how they do treat African American young men I think that’s a problem.”
Bags of skittles and cans of iced tea were passed out to the crowd. They were the two items Martin was carrying when he was killed. At the vigil there was an influence from the Civil Rights Movement. 76 year old Reginald Petty took part in the movement 50 years ago. He was arrested more than 30 times in Mississippi. He believes the Martin incident carries a message that spans the times. Petty said, “We have a long way to go a long way to go. We have to find a way to bring people together we had people in the sixties who were working together, that stopped.”
But some folks thought it’s more than just an issue of color. Wyvetta Granger said, “It’s a killing, it’s another killing it shouldn’t be that we get outraged because of race but it should be we get outraged anytime anyone takes a life.”
Trayvon’s parents once lived in East St. Louis. Although they moved away many years ago residents still have a strong tie to the family.