Sixteen months after he shot and killed Trayvon Martin, George Zimmerman was found not guilty on all charges. Late Saturday evening, a jury of six women gave their verdict in the case, which sparked national conversations about race relations in our nation. The shooting of the seventeen-year old prompted rallies and protests about racial profiling, and set off a wave of citizens, celebrities, lawmakers, and civil leaders who wore hoodies and repeated the now-famous words, “I am Trayvon.”
After the verdict, some activists blamed a weak prosecution for failing to convince the jury of Zimmerman's guilt, some pointed to a racially biased justice system, and others cited Florida's pro-gun laws for the trial outcome. When the news broke Saturday night, many people gathered in neighborhoods around our country, to express frustration over the verdict. While the vast majority of demonstrations were peaceful, there were a few acts of vandalism in Oakland, California – a city that has witnessed many killers of young, African-American men walking free. On Sunday, marches and rallies took place in major cities throughout our nation, including New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago, and no further violence was reported.
Activists marched wearing hoodies, and carrying signs that read, “Justice for Trayvon Martin,” and called on the Justice Department to file criminal civil rights charges against George Zimmerman. The DOJ released a statement saying they are looking into the shooting death of Trayvon, and said, “experienced federal prosecutors will determine whether the evidence reveals a prosecutable violation.” Despite the not guilty verdict, Trayvon Martin's family asked supporters not to resort to violence. The Martin family attorney, Ben Crump, spoke on behalf of the family, and said, “For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful. All of America has to dig deep in their hearts to learn from this tragedy, and make sure it's not repeated.”
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