National News

Local, national rallies follow Zimmerman verdict

Posted July 14, 2013
Updated July 15, 2013

— Thousands of demonstrators from across the country — chanting, praying and even fighting tears — protested a jury's decision to clear George Zimmerman in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager while the Justice Department considered whether to file criminal civil rights charges.

Rallies on Sunday were largely peaceful as demonstrators voiced their support for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's family — and decried Zimmerman's not guilty verdict as a miscarriage of justice. A march in Los Angeles had minor unrest when a group threw rocks and batteries at police.

A crowd of about 100 people gathered Sunday afternoon at Moore Square in Raleigh and about 50 people showed up at a rally Sunday evening at CCB Plaza in Durham, saying that Martin's shooting death and Zimmerman's acquittal reaches beyond racial and state lines.

"There's a mixed group of people out here, because people are interested in justice, and people, I think, generally realize when justice has not been delivered," one protester, Natalie Bullock Brown, said.

Local rallies decry Zimmerman verdict Local rallies decry Zimmerman verdict

Similar rallies happened in Greensboro, Charlotte, and Fayetteville.

The NAACP and protesters called for federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who was acquitted Saturday in Martin's February 2012 shooting death.

The Justice Department said it is looking into the case to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case. The department opened an investigation into Martin's death last year but stepped aside to allow the state prosecution to proceed.

The evidence generated during the federal probe is still being evaluated by the criminal section of the Justice Department's civil rights division, the FBI and the U.S. Attorney's office for the Middle District of Florida, along with evidence and testimony from the state trial, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and religious and civil rights leaders urged calm in hopes of ensuring peaceful demonstrations following a case that became an emotional flash point.

Sunday's demonstrations, held in cities from Florida to Wisconsin, attracted anywhere from a few dozen people to a more than a thousand.

At a march and rally in downtown Chicago attended by about 200 people, some said the verdict was symbolic of lingering racism in the United States. Seventy-three-year-old Maya Miller said the case reminded her of the 1955 slaying of Emmitt Till, a 14-year-old from Chicago who was murdered by a group of white men while visiting Mississippi. Till's killing galvanized the civil rights movement.

"Fifty-eight years and nothing's changed," Miller said, pausing to join a chant for "Justice for Trayvon, not one more."

In New York City, hundreds of protesters marched into Times Square Sunday night, zigzagging through Manhattan's streets to avoid police lines. Sign-carrying marchers thronged the busy intersection, chanting "Justice for! Trayvon Martin!" as they made their way from Union Square, blocking traffic for more than an hour before moving on.

In San Francisco and Los Angeles — where an earlier protest was dispersed with beanbag rounds — police closed streets as protesters marched Sunday to condemn Zimmerman's acquittal.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged protesters to "practice peace" after the rock- and bottle-throwing incident. Police arrested one man.

Rand Powdrill, 41, of San Leandro, said he came to the San Francisco march with about 400 others to "protest the execution of an innocent black teenager."

"If our voices can't be heard, then this is just going to keep going on," he said.

Earlier, at Manhattan's Middle Collegiate Church, many congregants wore hooded sweatshirts — the same thing Martin was wearing the night he was shot — in a show of solidarity. Hoodie-clad Jessica Nacinovich said she could only feel disappointment and sadness over the verdict.

"I'm sure jurors did what they felt was right in accordance with the law but maybe the law is wrong, maybe society is wrong; there's a lot that needs fixing," she said.

NCCU law prof 'not surprised' by Zimmerman verdict Law professor unsurprised by verdict

At a youth service in Sanford, Fla., where the trial was held, teens wearing shirts displaying Martin's picture wiped away tears during a sermon at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Protesters also gathered in Atlanta, Miami, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., along with a host of other cities.

Civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, urged peace in the wake of the verdict. Jackson said the legal system "failed justice," but violence isn't the answer.

But not all the protesters heeded those calls immediately after the verdict.

In Oakland, Calif., during protests that began late Saturday night some angry demonstrators broke windows, burned U.S. flags and started street fires. Some marchers also vandalized a police squad car and used spray paint to scrawl anti-police graffiti on roads and Alameda County's Davidson courthouse.

In Los Angeles, police said a crowd of about 100 protesters surrounded an officer and eventually had to be dispersed by officers firing beanbag rounds. 


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  • add-MY2cents Jul 15, 2013

    This is not about race! It is so sad that people have made this case about race! The jury has made their decision- no sense in people protesting! GZ will most likely have to be in hiding for a very long time and will never have a normal life!

  • Rocknhorse Jul 15, 2013

    "What should the average white person do to help the situation ?"

    Until the media stops forcing race issues on us, until people stop being influenced by media, until groups such as the NAACP stop chomping on ANY case as racist regardless of facts and making it an issue, and until people stop making race an issue (as a defense or an accusation, as a victim or an aggressor) I unfortunately do not feel there is anything the average white person CAN do to help the situation. Reading these comments and posts on Facebook shows that very few people are interested in facts, only skin.

    Myself? I just try to continue to judge the actions of people and not their physical appearance. I try to treat people with respect. I try to be aware of how my actions or words are perceived, but I speak my mind.

    That's all I know to do.

  • issymayake Jul 15, 2013

    Interesting. I have posted this same question on about a dozen news sites and have not gotten one answer. "What should the average white person do to help the situation ?" - trafalgerfountain

    I'll attempt to tackle your question. Specific to this scenario the problem lies mainly with Florida's interpretation of their own laws. If you wish to help, then vote for lawmakers who do not support these types of laws.

    Other than that, your empathy for black Americans and for youth is much appreciated. Recognizing the humanity in different groups is a great start. :)

  • jaydosse Jul 15, 2013

    The real story lies obfuscated within the comments posted herein, regarding this trial and others similar to it. It has become very obvious that our country is without a doubt, more racially divided than ever, perhaps due to the ramblings of "leaders" on both sides of the color and ethnic barriers. Folks no longer care about justice but seek revenge when a tragedy occurs. We now are living in a very anxious and angry nation whereby the solution to all problems appears to be one of vengeance without common sense ever being the rule of the day. This is a very sad scenario for our nation, struggling to find it's way back to sensibility. Hatred, racism, ignorance and the failure to accept reality are toxic to the human spirit. Like a cancer they eat away at the nature of our humanity and eventually the soul dries up, withers away and like dust is scattered to the four winds.

  • Lightfoot3 Jul 15, 2013

    "What should the average white person do to help the situation ?" - trafalgerfountain

    Apparently don't defend themselves. Lie there and take the beating, and hope they don't die or get seriously injured. If the black assailant is unarmed, plant a weapon on them (on a serious note, actually saw a cop do that once).

    "I'm glad it went on trial" - Bill Brasky

    Not me. An honest and ethical DA would have looked at the facts, compared it to Florida statutes, and seen that it met the case of self-defense. The bottom line is if a reasonable person would fear death or serious bodily injury if on the ground on a dark, rainy night, with someone on top of them, beating them? The obvious answer is yes, thus justifiable self-defense.

  • CestLaVie Jul 15, 2013

    Yes, that is interesting, trafalgerfountain. But I think many of us know the answer. Many have already bent over completely backwards; even that isn't enough anymore.

  • Steve Mchugelarge Jul 15, 2013

    If Zimmerman was really guilty, he didn't get away with it, the prosecutors let him off the hook

  • CestLaVie Jul 15, 2013

    Geez. I certainly didn't like or agree with the results of the OJ trial a few years ago, but I certainly wasn't out rallying & demonstrating against him getting off scot-free. Some seem to just be looking for any old excuse that comes down the pike to protest all the issues & seemingly misjustices happening today.

  • issymayake Jul 15, 2013

    "No crime, never should have been a trial. Florida caved to the race baiters and just made things worse."

    I disagree. I'm glad it went on trial and feel it would of gotten worse if it hadn't.
    Bill Brasky

    Agreed. Now with that being said, the jury rendered their verdict. It's time to move on, and time for parents to raise their boys to know when to run and when to fight.

    A sad story all the way around.

  • affirmativediversity Jul 15, 2013

    If that florida neighborhood has anymore trouble I am hoping they find real law enforcement who has been formally trained to handle situations like that so no one else will lose their lives just by walking in the rain from the store. GZ used his wanna be cop (neighborhood watch) job to the hilt and he took a life period point blank without regard. As I stated earlier...the verdit was "not guilty" but justice will come ...
    per PJM


    And you wonder why so many black youths die violent deaths...

    When did it become appropriate for parents or any adult to instruct their children that violence is the answer...if confronted or followed by a stranger, commit violence...if you don't get your own way, espouse revenge and violence...

    With people like you there really any wonder why a 17 yr old thought it appropriate to physically assault someone because 'they were following him'

    You sir are a BIG part of the problem!!!!!!