SOUTH BEND —The driver of the gray pickup decked with matching gray rims wore a hoodie over a ball cap and sunglasses when he pulled up in the street.
"I am Trayvon Martin," Joe Breathitt said. "Do you know how many times I've been pulled over because I'm wearing a hoodie and driving this vehicle with these rims?
"You can't just make this about some little dude in a hood. Ignorance thrives in all cultures."
The number of those who turned out at Indiana University South Bend's Civil Rights Heritage Center for the "1 Million Hoodie March" Thursday afternoon may have fallen short of 1 million, but the power of the crowd's voices as people marched up Washington Street to the Martin Luther King Center chanting for justice for Trayvon Martin echoed a thousand times over.
"We are ..." they called.
"Trayvon!" came the response.
"We are ..."
The march was organized by Kevin James, director of the Civil Rights Heritage Center, in the wake of the Feb. 26 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.
George Zimmerman, a self-appointed neighborhood watch captain, said he shot the teen in self-defense, and several eyewitnesses told Sanford police they heard a scuffle, a cry for help, and then a gunshot.
Zimmerman was seen armed with a handgun standing over Martin's body. He initially called 911 to report a suspicious person walking in the gated community, but the tape later revealed that police told Zimmerman to stay home and let a patrol unit check it out.
Martin wore a hoodie as he walked home from a convenience store, unarmed and carrying a bottle of iced tea and a pack of Skittles.
Zimmerman was not arrested or charged, which set off a backlash of rallies across the country that has since drawn reaction from civil rights leaders and even President Barack Obama.
Thursday afternoon, the Justice for Trayvon Martin support rally hit South Bend.
"We want to bring some solidarity and better control to the community," said the Rev. Terrell A. Jackson, president of the South Bend chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. "We want to take back our children."
Even Mayor Pete Buttigieg wore a hoodie as he marched with the crowd.
"We have to ask what it means for South Bend," Buttigieg said. "I hope we learn that you can't find out something you need to know about somebody just by looking at them."
Breathitt insisted Trayvon Martin's death was more than just a mistaken hoodie.
"You have so many kids die nationally over a hoodie, jewelry ... it happens at an alarming rate," Breathitt said. "As long as we think white and black, we'll never get to it.
"That wasn't racism," he said of the shooting. "That was ignorance."
Staff writer Jeff Harrell: