Andrew Dys

July 17, 2013

Rock Hill man walks the city asking for justice for Trayvon Martin

Anthony Crawford said he walked around Rock Hill on Tuesday, carrying a sign that included the F-word, to describe the “disgrace” of the criminal justice system.

The sign certainly grabbed attention.

A guy driving by in a pickup showed Anthony Crawford, who was carrying the sign, his middle finger.

Cars honked and honked, and a few people called out epithets of their own. Some stopped to take pictures of him and his sign.

Maybe Crawford, 33, a black man all alone on a sweltering 93-degree afternoon with his sign, gathered more attention than he would have carrying a picture or wearing a hoodie.

Maybe his word and his solitude made him different from the groups of protesters blocking California freeways who have had the excitement of watching mushrooms grow.

Crawford, well, his sign was different.

Crawford carried a sign with the “F-word” all over Rock Hill on Tuesday. His sign, hand-lettered on white poster board attached to a wooden stick, read simply: “The justice system is a f------ disgrace! Stand your ground for Trayvon.”

Except his sign didn’t have all those dashes on it.

He just carried his sign in silence, and walked.

“We cannot be killing people of ethnicities, blacks, Hispanics, and get away with murder,” Crawford said.

Crawford was talking and protesting about what America has been talking and protesting (a little) about since Saturday night.

Last year in Florida, George Zimmerman, 29, followed Martin, 17, while carrying a gun. Whether Martin attacked Zimmerman, or the other way around, remains unclear.

Prosecutors said Zimmerman was the aggressor. Zimmerman’s lawyers blamed the teenager armed with Skittles and iced tea.

What is clear is that Zimmerman used his gun to shoot the unarmed Martin dead.

Zimmerman was found not guilty of murder Saturday after a long trial. He was found, by a jury of his peers, to have acted in self-defense. In America, that is the justice system.

Protests have followed by those who believe Trayvon Martin was the victim, not the aggressor.

Another huge part of America has made it clear that they love guns and standing their ground against anybody perceived to be a threat, that Zimmerman was a victim, and that Zimmerman is now a hero.

It is unclear what Zimmerman, who killed an unarmed teen, is a victim of. He’s free today and can carry his gun, too.

So Crawford walked Rock Hill. He walked up Saluda Street through a predominantly black neighborhood. He walked down West Main Street and Heckle Boulevard and South Cherry Road, where ethnicities are mixed.

He walked in front of Rock Hill City Hall. He walked back and forth. The cops came. City police officers told Crawford he had free speech, and he could walk and march and protest, but police had received many calls saying the word on the sign was offensive, said Mark Bollinger, department spokesman.

“We did have complaints about that word on the sign,” Bollinger said. “Our officers told him that many saw the word in poor taste and offensive. But he has free speech. He was using it.”

Crawford left downtown and walked on other streets in a state that proudly flies the Confederate flag that is also flown by the Ku Klux Klan.

Cars honked. A few had Confederate flag vanity license plates up front.

Crawford said he knew what he was getting into by using that word on his sign, and he wanted to draw attention to the killing of an “unarmed teenager” to “Rock Hill and America.”

“This is not a Florida problem,” Crawford said. “This is an America problem.”

Crawford walked on with his sign and spoke about the killing of an unarmed teen of any color in America.

Surely the word on the sign was offensive.

Surely an unarmed teen shot to death was offensive.

Anthony Crawford walked on to make sure people saw both.

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