A gale of protest today greeted the no charge verdict read by a Florida jury, which acquitted George Zimmerman, an armed vigilante, charged with killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
The six women jury deliberated for 16 hours before coming out with a not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter against the black teenager thus confirming belief that the United States condones discrimination against the blacks.
Many believe that Zimmerman wrongly suspected that 17-year-old Martin was a criminal because he was black and gunned him down even when he posed no threat to his life. Zimmerman’s lawyers argued that his client acted in self-defense the night of February 26, 2012, when he and Martin met inside a gated community Sanford, Florida.
Valarie Houston, pastor of the Allen Chapel A.M.E. Church, dedicated a Sunday morning prayer service to Martin. “I am hurt. I am sad. I am disappointed and my heart is overwhelmed with pains. I thought in my heart that justice would be served.” Civil rights leaders including Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Benjamin Jealous, president of the National Association for the Advancement of
Colored People, who were alarmed by the verdict called on the justice department to pursue federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman. Jealous said Martin’s family may bring a civil suit against Zimmerman. According to him, the black community is upset with a situation in which young people have to fear the bad guys and the good guys. The robbers and the cops and the self-appointed community watch volunteer who think that they’re keeping folks safer.”
For Sharpton, the verdict is nothing but a slap in the face to the American people and compared with verdict with what happened to Rodney King, whose recorded beating by Los Angeles police triggered rioting two decades ago after a state criminal trial found the police officers not guilty only for the department of justice to convict two officers later. Zimmerman, 29, a white Hispanic, spotted Martin from his car and called police. The teenager, who was staying in the neighborhood at the home of his father’s fiancee, was walking back from a store where he bought candy and a soft drink.
Zimmerman got out of his car and engaged the teenager in brawl with left him with a bloody nose and head injuries. Zimmerman pulled out a pistol and Martin through the heart.
In a statement on the verdict, President Barack Obama called for calm reflection following acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting, but acknowledged that Martin’s death a tragedy 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. 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,” Obama said.