About 45 people, most donning "hoodie" sweatshirts, marched to Richmond City Hall on Monday to protest the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin and inveigh against the broader issues of discrimination and gun violence.
"It's not just about somebody in Florida; it's about people right here in Richmond," said Eleanor Thompson, CEO of Social Progress, the nonprofit organization that organized the event. "So we want everybody to take notice and know what this is really all about."
Thompson added that the death of Martin -- an African-American teen killed by a half-Latino man -- revealed persistent racial discrimination in society and the justice system.
Before gathering at City Hall, a smaller group of marchers toted signs and chanted as they walked east on Barrett Avenue from Seventh Street. Motorcycle officers and a police cruiser escorted the group.
Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, wearing a red, hooded sweatshirt, addressed the crowd from a microphone standing atop the steps outside City Hall.
"Just because somebody wears a hoodie they're a criminal?" McLaughlin said. "And I think it's much more than just wearing of the hoodie -- it's the color of the skin. And that is a horrendous injustice that we still have to deal with in our society."
Martin, 17, was walking in a gated community in Sanford, Fla., when he was confronted by George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old neighborhood watch volunteer. Zimmerman claimed self-defense in the confrontation and was not arrested.
The incident sparked nationwide outrage that has fed protests in communities across the country.
Thompson and McLaughlin, both of whom paraphrased the words of Martin Luther King Jr., were followed by several other speakers Monday.