Student groups from HCC plan to march Saturday in support of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager shot to death by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.
The HCC contingent, organized by the Black Student Alliance, Occupy HCC and Student Activities, will meet at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at Springfield City Hall to participate in an event called "1,000 Hoodies: A Walk for Trayvon Martin."
They will join the Alliance of Black Professionals and groups from other organizations and schools in what is being described as a "peaceful, family-friendly event." The march begins at 10 a.m.
"Students are excited about it," said Pedro Rodriguez, advisor for the HCC Black Student Alliance. "They have a lot of mixed emotions about it (the killing of Trayvon Martin). Some are outraged, some are sad. This is an opportunity for them to voice their opinions and concerns."
Martin's death has sparked nationwide outrage by those who say Martin was targeted because he was a young, African-American male wearing a hoodie. The 17-year-old was walking through a gated, Florida community when he was spotted by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman called police, who advised him to stay in his car. Instead, Zimmerman followed Martin on foot and shot him to death, claiming self-defense. He has not been arrested.
All participants are encouraged to wear hoodies Saturday. HCC Student Activities plans to bring some HCC hoodies to the march for students who need one.
"It think it's going to be a great experience for everyone who is involved," said Rodriguez.
As of Thursday, about two dozen students had committed to attending the march by signing up in the Student Activities office in Donahue 101.
Members of Occupy HCC had a table set up in the Student Lounge Wednesday where they were advertising Saturday's walk. They also had a laptop computer set up where students could go online and sign a petition calling for the prosecution of "the killer of our 17-year-old son, Trayvon Martin," which was set up by Martin's parents. Click here to read and sign the petiton.
"We're encouraging people to come Saturday, and we're also giving them the opportunity to at least show support and sign the petition now," said Ashley Cote, of Holyoke, a member of Occupy HCC.
Cote said about 50 students had signed the petition during the first half-hour of Student Activity period Wednesday.
Photos: (Left) Student Senate President Marcus Rodriguez signs the online petition calling for justice in the killing of Trayvon Martin. (Right) Occupy HCC organizer Kelly O'Connell, right, talks about the Trayvon Martin case to another student.