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Community Hosts Moment of Mourning for Trayvon

IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- When Frederick Newell moved to Iowa City from Chicago, he said he didn't feel comfortable going anywhere without wearing a suit and tie -- so he didn't.

Newell realized that there were plenty of kids in the community who felt equally out of place, so he started The Dream Center -- an after-school and late-night program for kids -- to give them a place to go.

"If I can provide supports for this kid during the time his parent is absent, then that's already diverting him from getting in trouble with the system," Newell said.

That diversion is important -- according to the Coalition for Racial Justice, black children are nearly six times more likely than white children to get arrested in Johnson County.

It's one reason why Newell wanted to share his story during the Moment of Mourning for Trayvon Martin on the Ped Mall on Wednesday night. Dozens of people showed up to the event, which hosted speakers, musicians and poets.

Co-organizer Megan Schwalm said she wanted to make the event happen because of her own experience with the outcome of the George Zimmerman case. Schwalm's son, Maddox, is black.

"My perspective on the ruling was that the lives of young boys of color are not valued the same as the lives of white boys. So that's scary as a mom," Schwalm said.

The event was organized to give people a chance to grieve and share experiences, but the organizers also wanted to give them a chance to take action, so many were signing people up for volunteer opportunities, too.

"If community members would step up or step out and just be a voice for kids to be able to talk to, I think that would change our community so much," Newell said.

"My greatest fear is that my child will be murdered by a police officer or a vigilante like George Zimmerman," Schwalm said.

Her hope is -- if people's voices are heard -- she might not have to worry about that anymore.

Find out more about The Dream Center at thedreamcenteria.org
 
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