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Rallies, Marches Follow Zimmerman Verdict

NEW YORK (AP) — Thousands of demonstrators from across the country—chanting, praying and even fighting tears—protested a jury's decision to clear neighborhood watch volunteer 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. Police in Los Angeles said they arrested six people, mostly for failure to disperse, after about 80 protesters gathered in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard and an unlawful assembly was declared. The New York Police Department said it arrested at least a dozen people on disorderly conduct charges during a rally in Times Square.

The NAACP and protesters called for federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, 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.

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, more than a thousand people 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 the rock- and bottle-throwing incident. Later, more than 100 officers in riot gear converged on the crowd and ordered people to disperse. A handful of people were given citations, mostly for blocking a street or jaywalking

Rand Powdrill, 41, of San Leandro, Calif., 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 — similar to the one 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.

Protesters also gathered in Atlanta, Miami, Milwaukee, 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!"

"We hope this will begin a movement to end discrimination against young black men," said Johnathan Cooper, one of the protest's organizers. "And also to empower black people and get them involved in the system."

In Atlanta, a crowd of about 75 protesters chanted and carried signs near Centennial Olympic Park.

"I came out today because a great deal of injustice has been done and I'm very disappointed at our justice system; I'm just disappointed in America," said Tabatha Holley, 19, of Atlanta.

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.

Comments

js1976 7 years, 2 months ago

Except in Mississippi, where people are beaten for no reason!

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justjess 7 years, 2 months ago

What are Mississippian's saying about Zimmerman's NOT GUILTY verdict? The thundering silence here is unbelievable!

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bill_jackson 7 years, 2 months ago

It would seem that the jury took into account the laws that are on the books and the testimony given, and then handed down the proper verdict.

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justjess 7 years, 2 months ago

@ bill-jackson

".......handed down the proper verdict."

I think NOT! The only way to figure this case out is to be able to put yourself in the place of a black 16 yr. old who went to the store, acted with kindness, purchased a bag of skittles and a can of ice tea and then proceeded to walk home. He encountered a male who had been on the phone with authorities calling him a "fuc....punk" and accused him of being up to no-good and was not dressed properly. Zimmerman was told by the dispacher not to follow the kid and to get back into his truck.

Had the directive of the dispacher been followed, we would not be blogging about this innocent child being MURDERED by this "WANNA BE COP". Keep in mind that the State of Florida did not want to press charges and only acted after receiving pressure complemented by a 2 million+ signature petition. The kid was dead and could no longer continue his screams for dear life. The screaming stopped when the bullet was fired at close range into the heart of Martin. If Zimmerman was so right about it being his voice on the tape screaming - why didn't he volunteer to scream again?? This would have been a defining moment in the testimony.

Black males are sooooo negatively evaluated: Zimmerman's evaluation was shaped very quickly after seeing the RACE of Martin. This is proof positive from his conversation on the phone. Simply stated, Zimmerman saw a black male that he lumped into a stereotypical category of being a low-down - low life thief who was destroying the image of his gated - mostly white community.

Let's get real and stop this "Ann Colter Insanity" of making this innocent kid the perpetrator: He was clearly the VICTIM!

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bill_jackson 7 years, 2 months ago

You must have missed the part about "the laws on the books". You can't be convicted of something if the law says it is legal. At least that's what I have always been told.

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justjess 7 years, 2 months ago

@ bill-jackson

"You must have missed the part about "the laws on the books". You can't be convicted of something if the law says it is legal....."

No, I saw that. I think that you must have missed the part I wrote about a young 16 yr. old black boy going to the store to buy skittles and ice tea and on his way home experienced a man who ASSUMED (due to his negative evaluation of black males) that he was up to no-good and was going to break in and steal from his neighbors.

Zimmerman, after being told not to follow this kid, did so anyway and used deadly force to kill him while trying to prove to law enforcement that he was right. There is no law on any books anywhere covering such a negligible act.

There is a saying that , "Dead Men Tell No Lies". However, the live man (Zimmerman) told many lies and it's about time that he is held both accountable and responsible for this kids death.

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darryl 7 years, 2 months ago

justjess,

Your assertion that Mr. Zimmerman told many lies is opinion not substantiated by court documents, as he did not testify. What he said, pre-trial, was, likely, vetted by both the defending and prosecuting counsel, not to mention the law enforcement agencies involved. As to your opinion that the wrong verdict was handed down...I have heard no one, including the prosecuting attorneys after the fact, say that the clear-cut case for manslaughter or second-degree murder was made but the jury returned the incorrect verdict. Based on the laws on the books in the State of Florida, enough reasonable doubt was present to find Mr. Zimmerman not guilty, at least according to the pronounced verdict. Likely as not, you and the other readers here, including me, are not privy to the procedural details of the case and are, therefore, unqualified to cast aspersions on the technicalities in a murder trial. However, spewing invectives and suggesting that racial profiling was evident (when even the FBI found no evidence) is uncalled for without evidence.

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justjess 7 years, 2 months ago

@darryl

Your argument is sooooo stale. These are the verdicts that black people are so accustomed.

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justjess 7 years, 2 months ago

@ darryl

Do you remember the Emmett Till case?

Different century - Same Problem. We are not in a post racial era. Reactions to young black males are the same: Guilty until proven Guilty. The sad thing is that far too many white Americans support their guilt. This is secondary to our badge of slavery banner and the constant negative evaluation of my people.

Don't dispair. I hate using this neucular racial slang, but, "IT IS A BLACK THING!"

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darryl 7 years, 2 months ago

I hate using this neucular racial slang, but, "IT IS A BLACK THING!"

I rest my case.

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bill_jackson 7 years, 2 months ago

Jess- I like the way you spell. Signed, George W. Bush

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justjess 7 years, 2 months ago

I never read anything that George W. Bush wrote. It wasn't his spelling that was a problem, it was his thinking and his speaking.

I think you have old GW confused with the POTATO(E) guy.

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bill_jackson 7 years, 2 months ago

I was referring to the way W pronounced "nuclear" much in the way that you spelled it. "Nookalar"

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justjess 7 years, 2 months ago

@bill-jackson

Thanks for the correct spelling of "nuclear" . I never heard GW pronounce it; however, there are enough other words that were mispronounced that he could have written his own dictionary. LOL!!!!!!!

That excellent speller was Dan Quayle.

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justjess 7 years, 2 months ago

This youtue video was one by artin Bashir back in March.

 video.msnbc.msn.com/martin-bashir4689...
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