Although the protesters went down streets that normally carry considerable traffic, it appeared that they caused little disruption. Police maintained a presence behind and ahead of the impromptu march.
One placard read: “Stop criminalizing black men.” Another said “Trayvon We Will Never Forget You.” Still another read: “Only White Life is Protected in America.”
The demonstration was still under way as 2 a.m. approached, about three hours after George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer, was found not guilty in the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla.
The number of marchers appeared to vary, but appeared at some points to be as large as several hundred. Most participants appeared to be in their 20s and early 30s. They included a large number of white men and women, as well as African Americans.
The march through the streets paused early in the morning outside the Tivoli theater in Columbia Heights, where a bullhorn was passed from speaker to speaker. Many urged their listeners to cling together in a fight for justice and against bigotry.
One of those taking his turn was Sean Dallas, 22, who said he left work at a club at 14th Street and Florida Avenue to join the march.
He raised the question of racial profiling.
“When does it change?” he demanded:” You can’t judge someone by a stereotype. Do your part to change tomorrow! We all have to do our part in this.”
A native of Jamaica, he said his family moved to this area 10 years ago, and he found friends of all races.
However, he said the verdict made him wonder whether his style of dress could make him the victim of profiling.
“I dress in baggy pants and Jordans,” he said in an interview. “Does that make me a thug?”
A woman who appeared to be among the older demonstrators was Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, 56, She said the verdict left her “saddened but not surprised.”
She said a text message had alerted her to the midnight march.
“Clearly,” she said, “there was there was no justice for Trayvon Martin,” who she said was doing nothing wrong.
As part of her response, she said, she bought materials for a placard at a local pharmacy. Her sign read “Boycott Florida”
When justice is not available in the courts, she said, “we will have to get justice in other ways and a boycott of tourism in Florida is one way of doing that,” she said.
At one point it appeared that police had stopped a bus passing through the protest area and were interviewing people on board.
Staff writer Clinton Yates contributed to this report