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Hundreds rally in Dudley Square / words by Leah E. Gallant, video by Ethan Silverstein, photos by Ali Donohue

Signs bearing the now-iconic photo of Trayvon Martin in his hoodie hovered over the hundreds who gathered in Roxbury’s Dudley Square Sunday evening to demand justice for the slain 17-year-old.

“This is about honoring the dead, but it’s also about fighting like hell for the living,” said Sublime Love, one of numerous speakers to address the crowd.

The most recent crop of Trayvon Martin solidarity rallies began when the verdict—George Zimmerman acquitted on all charges—was announced late Saturday night. Protests have been held in major cities across the US.

Speakers at Sunday’s Dudley Square protest said it was only the beginning of an organized movement for change—but just how that change would come about, or what exactly needed to change, remained unclear.

Sheila Alcide, a neighborhood resident, went to the rally “to support Trayvon Martin and every Trayvon Martin there’s ever been.” But she also came in the hopes of finding out the next step—be it a meeting, march or vigil.

“It’s one thing to rally, it’s another to make change,” said Alcide. “We need a leader like Martin Luther King—we’re soldiers, we just need someone to tell us what to do next.”

The event took the form of a speak-out session open to people of color, followed by a march. In between speakers—who ranged from a 13-year old to State Representative Gloria Fox–the crowd chanted, “No justice, no peace.”

“Both the protest and rally were peaceful.  There were no arrests or citations given,” Cheryl Fiandaca, Bureau Chief, Public Information for the Boston Police Department, said via email.

Some speakers noted that having a black man as president meant little when it came to racial equality; others maintained that President Obama had indicated he sided with the Martin family. Some speakers pointed to racism as endemic to capitalism; others faulted the criminal justice system at large.

“I think the justice system did exactly what it was supposed to do – there was a mistake only if you ignored the past four hundred years,” Khury Petersen-Smith told the crowd. “Zimmerman killed Trayvon Martin, but the criminal justice system killed him again, and the media killed him again.”

Others critiqued the mainstream media for failing to connect instances of alleged racial profiling and for selective coverage of the rallies.

“When you look at CNN, it’s like there’s only a few crazy black people who are angry at this,” said Alcide.

The crowd at Dudley Square was a diverse mix of race as it was in age.

“It was heartening to see how many white people there were,” said Reverend Andrea Payne, an ordained interfaith minister.

Representative Gloria Fox spoke about working with the NAACP to press civil charges against Zimmerman. The NAACP started a petition to those ends . . .

A public discussion art, activism, and social justice at the new Pussy Riot book’s NYC launch / by Paula Mejia

It's a sweltering Sunday evening. July 14. A malignant humidity has loomed over New York for the past month. But the lingering thickness in the air right now feels abrasive, like sandpaper against my skin. Walking towards the Lower East Side, towards the volunteer-run bookstore and activist center Bluestockings, I hear the people have gathered. They’ve marched past Union Square seeking for Trayvon Martin's lost justice. Somewhere. 2013 and 1963 aren't too far removed, it seems.

At Bluestockings, we are celebrating the launch of Let’s Start a Pussy Riot!, a collection of “supporter responses” curated by Emely Neu, edited by French and published last month by Rough Trade Records. The editors describe the book as “a creative response” comprising “culture and creativity to form our activism and inform our minds … writing, painting, singing our opinions in order to distil them further in the minds of others.” The book was published in collaboration with Pussy Riot.

"Open all the doors, tear off your epaulettes. Come, taste freedom with us." The last line of Nadeza Tolokonmikva's closing statement in court wraps up the sentiment of Pussy Riot's fervor for justice, one that caused their imprisonment. It also fittingly embodies the spirit of French's book. Let's Start a Pussy Riot! is an invitation to participate in an ongoing discourse that extends far beyond the confines of print.

The book's first chapter illustrates the now infamous tale of Pussy Riot, the Russian punk rock bards imprisoned for their fearless stand against injustice. It features the three girls' riveting court statements, and lyrics to the songs that caused their imprisonment – particularly the jagged brilliance of "Putin Got Scared" and the Pussy Riot manifesto.

The crux of the book, though, is composed of beautiful reactions to Pussy Riot's bravery including writing and visual art pieces from Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, CSS, CocoRosie, Robyn, Kim Gordon, Lucky Dragons and many others. The most heart-wrenching piece is a fold-out . . .


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