(Image courtesy Bobby Constantino)
With George Zimmerman in custody on charges he shot and killed an unarmed teen in Florida, one Massachusetts man’s journey comes to an end.
Bobby Constantino, 34, a former prosecutor in Roxbury, who now lives in Brooklyn, New York, started walking last Sunday from Government Center in Downtown Boston to Sanford, Florida, to protest the fact that Zimmerman had not been charged with a crime.
The events that inspired Constantino's march began on Feb. 26 when Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old black student was visiting his father in a gated community. Zimmerman, the captain of the local neighborhood watch, called 911 and eventually shot the teen. Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder Wednesday night.
The case sparked national outrage and started a conversation in some communities about the role of race in the criminal justice system.
“I did a lot of thinking about what the best way was to protest [Zimmerman not being charged],” said Constantino. “And then I thought back to the Civil Rights movement and the freedom marches and that inspired me. I wanted to revive that idea because I think it has great power.”
But now with Zimmerman in police custody, Constantino’s journey is over. Although Constantino made it only to North Kingston, Rhode Island he said the journey was worth it. On the trail for four-days, Constantino said he thinks he was able to make an impact locally and possibly influence the next generation.
When walking through Boston, Constantino made a stop at the Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester, to speak with the students about what exactly he was doing and why he was doing it.
“They’ve been studying Martin Luther King and Gandhi and how to make social change through nonviolent ways,” said Rachael Moo, a second-grade teacher at the Neighborhood House Charter School. “They thought it was really cool and wondered if anybody was doing anything like that today.”
Constantino spoke with the students Monday about his walk, but it was what happened after that got Moo the most excited.
“The kids were researching the places he was going and mapping out his walk and calculated that it would take 412 hours of walking to make it to Florida,” said Moo. “They were calling shelters and YMCAs to find places for him to stay and they’ve been really invested in it. They even walked a few blocks with him as he left.”
That kind of support and conversation was one of the many goals Constantino had went he set out on his walk with only the clothes on his back, some water, a tooth brush, and his cellphone. The lack of supplies meant he had to rely on the generosity of others.
“It forced me to stop and talk with people and make connections along the way, to be honest getting a taste of this activism was a little addictive,” said Constantino. “I want to do more. I want to start more conversations. I think there is a level of frustration dangerously simmering under the surface of this country and we’re in denial about how to address it.”
(Image courtesy Rachel Moo)