Protesters across the country rally after Zimmerman's acquittal, advocates call for peace

  • Article by: VERENA DOBNIK , Associated Press
  • Updated: July 15, 2013 - 11:55 AM

view larger photos

  

NEW YORK — With chants and prayers, sermons and signs, outrage over a jury's decision to clear George Zimmerman in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager poured from street protests and church pulpits Sunday amid calls for federal civil rights charges to be filed in the case.

Demonstrations large and small broke out across the country — ranging from a few dozen more than a thousand — in support of the family of Trayvon Martin as protesters decried the not guilty verdict as a miscarriage of justice.

The NAACP and protesters called for federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, who was acquitted Saturday in Martin's February 2012 shooting death, which unleashed a national debate over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice.

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

In New York City, hundreds of protesters marched into Times Square on 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 groups of people broke off from a peaceful march and threw rocks and batteries at officers. 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.

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.

About 200 people turned out for a rally and march in downtown Chicago, saying 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 to "Justice for Trayvon, not one more."

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

In Miami, more than 200 people gathered for a vigil. "You can't justify murder," read one poster. Another read "Don't worry about more riots. Worry about more Zimmermans."

Carol Reitner, 76, of Miami, said she heard about the vigil through an announcement at her church Sunday morning. "I was really devastated. It's really hard to believe that someone can take the life of someone else and walk out of court free," she said.

In Philadelphia, about 700 protesters marched from LOVE Park to the Liberty Bell, alternating between chanting Trayvon Martin's name and "No justice, no peace!"

  • related content

  • Minneapolis marchers protest George Zimmerman verdict

    Monday July 15, 2013

    Several thousand people snaked through the streets of downtown Minneapolis Monday evening contending that the acquittal of Florida teen Trayvon Martin’s shooter is a sign of systemic racial injustice.

  • White House: Obama won't press DOJ on Zimmerman

    Monday July 15, 2013

    The White House says President Barack Obama won't involve himself in decisions by the Justice Department on whether to pursue civil rights charges against George Zimmerman in the shooting death...

  • Minneapolis vigil remembers Trayvon Martin

    Monday July 15, 2013

    The service offered those upset by the George Zimmerman acquittal a chance to come together.

  • Throngs of marches gather on Times Square, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in N...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close