Anti-Verdict Rallies Spread Across US
The not-guilty Florida verdict for George Zimmerman
continued to stoke protests across the US.
The jury of six women was initially split on Zimmerman’s guilt. Three of the women thought he was not guilty, two thought he was guilty of manslaughter, and one thought he was guilty of second-degree murder.
In the end, after wading through the evidence and looking at the particulars of Florida law, the women unanimously decided to acquit Zimmerman.
Thousands of demonstrators from across the country protested the jury’s decision while the Justice Department considers whether to file criminal civil rights charges in the matter.
The New York Police Department said it arrested at least a dozen people on disorderly conduct charges during a rally attended by over 1,000 people in Times Square Sunday.
In San Francisco and Los Angeles, where an earlier protest was dispersed with beanbag rounds, police closed streets as protesters marched Sunday to condemn
Los Angeles police arrested 14 people overnight for failing to disperse after hundreds of protesters splintered off from a peaceful demonstration in the Crenshaw district and began stomping cars, breaking windows, and thrashing businesses.
Protesters stormed a Wal-Mart at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza, pushing their way through as guards scrambled to close security gates. They threw merchandise on the ground and yelled. Some tried to break open jewelry glass displays. A short while later, LAPD officers wearing helmets and carrying batons swarmed the store while more police walked the parking lot.
In Oakland, where there were more arrests, hundreds of protesters stormed Interstate 880 near downtown Monday evening and blocked traffic in the southbound and northbound lanes. The protesters were cleared from the freeway and made their way downtown, authorities said.
Windows were shattered at a Men’s Wearhouse store, a Comerica bank branch, and Youth Radio, according to reports. Some angry demonstrators burned U.S. flags and started street fires, vandalized a police squad car, and used spray paint to scrawl anti-police graffiti on roads and Alameda County’s Davidson courthouse.
Most of the rallies, however, were peaceful. At a youth service in Sanford, Florida, where the trial was held, teens wearing shirts displayed Martin’s picture and wiped away tears during a sermon at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church. At least several dozen protesters gathered at the state capitol to protest Florida’s stand-your-ground law.
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.”
Protesters also gathered in Atlanta, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., along with a host of other cities.
Civil rights leaders Rev. Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton urged peace in the wake of the verdict and called for over a hundred vigils and rallies to be held across the nation this Saturday, demanding the Justice Department file
civil rights charges in the wake of Zimmerman’s acquittal.