The long awaited verdict of George Zimmerman caps a case that has inflamed outrage for well over a year. The six jurors — all of them women — deliberated for 16½ hours. Five of the women were white and one Hispanic. When he heard his fate, Zimmerman lacked visible reaction. He turned and shook the hand of one of his attorneys before sitting back down with a smirk on his face.
George Zimmerman was accused of second-degree murder in the shooting death of a African American 17-year-old teenager Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012. Martin was slain as he walked back to his father’s finance’s house through the rain from a Sanford, Florida convenience store. Martin was unarmed carrying only Skittles and a drink. Martin wasn’t committing any crime he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Zimmerman, a white neighborhood watch volunteer, spotted Martin and called police. A 911 dispatcher told Zimmerman that officers were on the way and not to follow the allegedly “suspicious person”. But Zimmerman still got out of his car and took justice in his own hands. It was at that moment he became a vigilante and infringed on Trayvon Martin’s most fund amen- tal right which was the right to live. The verdict has triggered a wave of disgrace among civil rights activists as hundreds of protesters took to the streets in cities across the U.S. demanding justice for Martin’s family. In Chicago at least 150 people gathered outside the Daley Center Sunday to protest. Thousands of protesters chanting “No justice, no peace” gathered in New York City on Sunday to protest the acquittal, which prompted rallies across the country. About 1,000 to 2,000 of the demonstrators abandoned the protest site at Union Square to march in the streets toward Times Square, slowing or stopping traffic. In Los Angeles, more than 200 protesters in Leimert Park engaged police in a brief standoff. The protesters surrounded at least three patrol cars and repeatedly chanted “Trayvon Martin! In Boston, about 500 racially mixed protesters left their demonstration site in the Roxbury neighborhood and started marching in the streets alongside police escorts on motorcycle and on foot.
Rev. Al Sharpton told Today’s Savannah Guthrie that he is prepared to lobby the federal government to charge Zimmerman with a violation of Martin’s civil rights. “Trayvon Martin had the civil right to go home,” Sharpton said.
Sharpton confessed to Guthrie that he was disappointed by the verdict against Zimmerman, but he was not surprised. “You have to remember, we had to fight and demonstrate to even get a trial,” he recalled. Sharpton said that his network and Martin family attorney, Ben Crump, began the process of pursuing civil rights claims against Zimmerman before the trial even began.“Trayvon Martin had the civil right to go home, and in 100 cities this Saturday there will be demonstrations in front of federal buildings led by ministers pressing the federal government to protect our rights,” Sharpton warned. President Obama made the following statement:
“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy. Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. I now ask every American to respect the call for calm reflection from two parents who lost their young son. And as we do, we should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities. We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis. We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this. As citizens, that’s a job for all of us. That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.”
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