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Trayvon Martin death becomes national rallying cry

Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

People gather at a 'Stand Up for Trayvon Martin' rally in Washington on Saturday.

Updated 6:19 p.m. ET: Thousands of people in cities across the country planned to march this weekend to call for justice in memory of Trayvon Martin, the black teenager shot to death last month by a neighborhood watch volunteer in Florida.

Rallies were planned Saturday in Washington, Chicago, Dallas and Tampa, Fla. Seattle, Baltimore and Atlanta were among other cities hosting weekend events. Protesters were encouraged to wear hoodies – the type of garment Martin had on when he was killed.

In Tampa, up to 1,000 people marched to one of the city's busiest intersections, the Tampa Bay Times reported. They carried signs that said, "I am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon." Many wore hoodies and carried bags of Skittles, just as Martin did at the time he was shot, according to the Times.

Protesters march in Philadelphia, calling for justice in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

In Columbia, S.C., hundreds of people gathered in Finlay Park, wistv.com reported.

"Trayvon is the Emmitt Till of our generation," said event co-chair Chris Sullivan. He's referring to the Mississippi 14-year-old who was beaten to death in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a white woman. 

"'A threat to justice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere,' those are the words of the great Dr. Martin Luther King and that's why we're here today," said Sullivan.

NBC's Ron Allen Reports.

And at a protest in Sanford, Fla., where the shooting took place, members of the New Black Panther Party announced they are offering a $10,000 reward for the "capture" of George Zimmerman, the man whot shot Martin. When asked if he was inciting violence, the group's leader, Mikhail Muhammad, said, "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth," the Orlando Sentinel reported.

In response, city of Sanford officials issued a statement saying the city does not condone the group's actions. "The city is requesting calm heads and no vigilante justice," the statement said.

More than 1.7 million people have signed an online petition urging that the shooter be prosecuted.

Trayvon, my son and the Black Male Code

Martin was killed on Feb. 26. The shooting has set off a nationwide debate over race and justice. Martin's family believes he was killed in part because he was black. Neighborhood crime-watch captain Zimmerman, whose father is white and mother is Hispanic, claimed self-defense. He has not been arrested, though state and federal authorities are still investigating.

A legal adviser to Zimmerman said the shooting had nothing to do with race.

"I asked him, 'Are you a racist? Do you have anything against black people?' and he said 'No'," Zimmerman's legal adviser, Craig Sonner, told CNN on Friday.

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