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Thousands take to streets to protest George Zimmerman trial verdict

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John Minchillo / AP

Crowds of demonstrators prepare to march towards Times Square, Sunday, July 14, 2013, during a protest against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida. Demonstrators upset with the verdict protested mostly peacefully in Florida, Milwaukee, Washington, Atlanta and other cities overnight and into the early morning.

Updated Monday, July 15, 2013 | 8:37 a.m.

Zimmerman Trial Reaction

A protester stomps on a van during a demonstration in reaction to the acquittal of neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman on Monday, July 15, 2013, in Los Angeles. Anger over the acquittal of a U.S. neighborhood watch volunteer who shot dead an unarmed black teenager continued Monday, with civil rights leaders saying mostly peaceful protests will continue this weekend with vigils in dozens of cities. Launch slideshow »

George Zimmerman Trial

George Zimmerman, left, stands with defense counsel Mark O'Mara during closing arguments in his trial at the Seminole County Criminal Justice Center, in Sanford, Fla., July 12, 2013. Launch slideshow »

NEW YORK — Thousands of demonstrators from across the country — chanting, praying and fighting tears — protested a jury's decision to clear neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, and organizers say they'll try to maintain the momentum with vigils next weekend.

Rallies on Sunday were largely peaceful as demonstrators voiced their support for 17-year-old Trayvon Martin's family and decried the verdict. 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. New York police said at least a dozen people were arrested on disorderly conduct charges during a rally in Times Square.

Advocates want federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, who was acquitted Saturday in Martin's 2012 shooting death. The Rev. Al Sharpton said Monday that his organization will hold vigils and rallies in 100 cities Saturday in front of federal buildings.

The Justice Department has said it's considering 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.

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, 73-year-old Maya Miller said the case reminded her of the 1955 slaying of Emmett 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 1,000 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 downtown Union Square, blocking traffic for more than an hour.

In San Francisco and in Los Angeles, where police dispersed an earlier protest with beanbag rounds, police closed streets Sunday.

President Barack Obama, Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson have urged calm. In Oakland, Calif., during protests that began late Saturday night, some angry demonstrators broke windows, burned U.S. flags, vandalized a police squad car and spray-painted anti-police graffiti.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti urged protesters to "practice peace" after rock- and bottle-throwing. Later, more than 100 officers in riot gear converged 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 marched in San Francisco 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. 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 service in Sanford, Fla., where Zimmerman was tried, teens wearing shirts with Martin's picture wiped away tears during a church sermon.

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. "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 through downtown 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, 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," said Tabatha Holley, 19, of Atlanta.

"I'm just disappointed in America."

Associated Press reporters Suzette Laboy in Miami, Terence Chea in San Francisco, Keith Collins in Philadelphia, Pete Yost and Eric Tucker in Washington and Luisa Leme contributed to this report.

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  1. Marchers & Protesters,

    http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/2013-chic...

    March against these murders please...effect some real change...I will pray for Trayvon's family...all y'all pray for the 212 ( & counting ) departed souls...

    Regards,
    Purgatory

  2. Comment removed by moderator. Off Topic

  3. Young people need to deal with THEIR ISSUE: they are mortal, just like Trayvon. Act stupid and you too could be seriously hurt. The entire world is NOT at your disposal. You are NOT "the future" that your "teachers" kept telling you. You are NOT little darlings UNLESS you man up / woman up and CONTRIBUTE to our culture, society, economy. Stop pointing fingers and do something PRODUCTIVE.

  4. desert-eagle: don't you know? The NAACP pays staff civil rights "leaders" and attorneys real well using the funding they con out of productive Americans by telling them their is a race war here. Media needs to FILTER THE SOUND BYTES and consider when the noise maker is PAID to make noise. Much different perspective that what the media is feeding us.

  5. Apparently the law doesn't matter to these protesters, are they supporting the right to attack, rob, kill and sell drugs. I otherwise there is no point they could be making.

    Don't attack other people, especially from behind.

  6. Click the link Patriot...it is up to 214...your opinion ( as lame as it is ) belongs to you...the facts belong to all of us...

  7. Comment removed by moderator. - -

  8. The ku ku birds are in full bloom!!!!! No set of facts will now or ever change these type of people minds. I too am disappointed that we still have such ignorance in America.------ Trayvon RIP

  9. Comment removed by moderator. Off Topic

  10. TueAmericanPatriot, you seem to be confused about a number of issues:

    "So Zimmerman - gets out and chases Martin and it's Martin's fault?" - Nope, but Martin assaulting Zimmerman was Martin's fault.

    "...you know that Martin was profiled" - Racial profiling is only illegal when done by the police. Part of each citizens rights to free speech and free association is that they are allowed to make judgments based on race if they choose to. Now in this case the prosecution failed to establish and racial motive in the case but even if they had...it isn't illegal.

    "If Paul Blart Mall Cop had been minding his own business, a 17 year old boy would still be alive today." - Had Martin gone home, called the police, or chosen to use his words instead of his fists he would be alive today.

    Everyone who refers to Martin as "an innocent kid" needs to remember that sufficient evidence was presented at trial for the jury to accept that Martin assaulted and injured Zimmerman in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to fear death or serious bodily harm. At that point Martin stopped being "innocent" and was no longer "just walking home"....he was committing a violent assault. When you ask "why did he deserve to die" just keep that part in mind.

  11. londontexas,

    Exactly correct...the count is up from 212 to 215 in Chicago this morning from yesterday morning...tragic...these poor souls have no hope for a better life...they live in fear - everyday there is another "war" dead, and of course, it is almost entirely black on black...tragic...I cannot even imagine living day-to-day wondering where my loved one is and which car is going to drive by with guns blazing...read some of these stories...no hope of escape and no hope that the NAACP, Al Sharpton, Mellisa Harris-Perry, et al. will come to the rescue...heartbreaking...tragic...

    http://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/2013-chic...

    Regards,
    Purgatory

  12. Protestors need to accept that they are MORTAL. Young people sometimes die. Every other person on the planet was NOT put here to ensure young people are safe. Instead of protesting, find something productive to do.

  13. 1. Zimmerman was told by the Police to stay in his car but ignored instructions by legal authorities and left the car with his loaded gun to confront Martin. He had NO legal right to confront anyone with a loaded gun in his possession.

    2. The loaded gun helped to elevate Zimmerman's confrontational attitude. He exited his car WITH the intention of confrontation with a gun at the slightest provocation. He wanted to create fear in Martin to make him react in self defense. Guns turn spineless wimps into Captain Americas so they can kill with a clear conscience.

    3. Zimmerman said that Martin "looked like he was under the influence" of drugs or alcohol. This was a complete lie to justify getting out of the car and track Martin with a loaded gun. Martin wasn't the least bit intoxicated or drugged.

    4. Martin was covered by the 'Stand Your Ground' Law because Zimmerman was stalking him. Any unidentified stalker coming up behind me, on foot or in a car, is in serious trouble because 'Stand Your Ground' Law would be on my side.

    5. Zimmerman had no uniform and did not identify himself. He never told Martin "I'm a security guard" and showed Martin his ID. He tracked Martin to create fear so that he would take protective actions which would give Zimmerman cause to use his gun. Zimmerman violated the Civil Rights of Martin.

    6. If Zimmerman was a black security guard, came up behind Martin with a loaded gun and Martin was white...rationality knows the results.

  14. Light skinned man kills black kid = chaos , black man kills black kid = oh well thats terrible, black man kills white kid = --------------- that's right nothing , happens everyday.

  15. SunJon...

    Yup.

    Teamster...

    Ditto.

    For GZ, 'standing your ground' was a fluid, evolving thing; wherever he was, whatever the circumstances dictated, he was allowed to 'stand his ground'. TM, on the other hand, was not allowed under any circumstances to 'stand his ground'...
    You see, GZ was 'the good guy', & TM 'the suspect & interloper'.
    One is a 'neighborhood watcher', intent on fighting crime in his 'hood... armed with a gun & preconceived notions, free to make any assumptions he wants, act on them, rationalize his decisions away as necessary & even with whimsy...TM was, is & will continue to be representative of 'a black man in a hoodie likely perpetrating some crime, because what else WOULD he be doing'?

    In America, a GZ gets acquitted because 'he was fearful for his life' & receives the benefit of the doubt...

    In America, a TM is assumed to be an evil-doer who needs the cops called on him, then to be followed by an angry, gun-toting, epithet spewing, self-righteous 'Watch-Man' who manages to get his butt whipped by the aforementioned evil-doer while in the process of this CONFRONTATION, which then in turn gives him the legal right to shoot & kill the alleged evil-doer, because he has the right to 'protect himself'.

    In America, an African-American in GZ's place gets convicted nearly EVERY SINGLE TIME.

    In America, the cash that a GZ can raise to fund a World-Class Defense against charges gets narry a notice...
    but the indigents that receive the legal minimum through court-appointed representation and get convicted are comfortably considered to have 'had their day in court'...

    Those of you that consider this whole episode & it's aftermath to be a 'media-manufactured' racial divide are unwilling to 'put the shoe on the other foot' and view it from any other perspective but the one your own personal ego/ethno centricity allows for.

    I hold no animus toward GZ.
    I would have felt badly for his family if he'd been convicted; even felt empathy for GZ. I believed that poor Georgie was screaming like a little girl on the 911 tapes, & that TM's parents ALSO believed it to be their child; I also believe that TM had gotten the best of GZ in their CONFRONTATION, precipitated by GZ, but that he also had a right to 'stand HIS ground'.
    Again, if GZ was a black man and TM a young, white, going-about-his-business citizen, GZ goes down EVERY SINGLE TIME.