'Perception, unfortunately in our society, is reality' - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

'Perception, unfortunately in our society, is reality'

TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Activists across the county are rallying together, pushing for an arrest in the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin.

The 17-year-old was killed a month ago by a self-proclaimed watch volunteer who claims self defense.

Local leaders say this act of violence is a demonstration of a person who was judged solely by what they were wearing.

"In every generation there are fads. When I was coming along we had apple hats and rimmed glasses and that was the fad of the day. In this day and time the fads are hoodies," said Reverend Jerome Milton, Greater New Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church.

It's the hoodie that many feel is responsible for Trayvon Martin's death, brought on by a Florida man who claimed he looked suspicious while walking through a gated community in Florida.

"It doesn't have to be right. Perception, unfortunately in our society, is reality," said Reverend Milton.

Reverend Milton says reality is that young African- American and Hispanic adults are considered dangerous when wearing a hoodie.

"We're in a politically correct society and we'll say what is politically correct, but in our hearts and minds that is the perception. Again it does not have to be right," said Reverend Milton.

This is why Branden Johnson with the NAACP of Longview said African- Americans and Hispanics need to be mindful of how they present themselves.

"Your appearance does matter You need to be at your optimum performance when you go out into the public because it's not just me watching it's not just your local law enforcement watching, but other people are," said Johnson, "it's a sad commentary on the fact that in America in 2012, we have to justify ourselves when we wake up in the morning and put on the clothes we wish to put on."

"In this day and time perception is reality and that's the way the great majority of Americans see young people in hoodies and it's unfortunate, but that's the way it is," said Reverend Milton.

[Click here to read the transcripts of George Zimmerman's 911 call]

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