After more than a year, a jury issued its verdict Saturday night on the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin at the hands of Zimmerman.
The six jurors, all women, were given the option of convicting Zimmerman of manslaughter, and after several hours of deliberation, asked for clarification on the charge.
From San Francisco to Sanford, Florida; Atlanta to Washington, late Saturday night and Sunday saw people flooding into the streets. Across the United States thousands hit the streets in mostly peaceful protests in the event of an acquittal. Even though Zimmerman is a free man, his brothers and lawyers say he’s still on edge.
“There is still a fringe element who have, at least in tweets and everything else, (said) that they want revenge,” attorney Mark O’Mara said.
In general, the demonstrations were peaceful, though the New York march became disorderly at times, and in Los Angeles protesters blocked a major highway.
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.
Police used pepper spray on the protesters at Park Avenue and 71st Street, as uniformed doormen and several residents looked on. One woman sat crying on the sidewalk, comforted by some marchers, while others kept the protest going.
Hundreds of protestors gathered in front of Dallas City Hall Sunday to rally against the not guilty verdict handed down to George Zimmerman. There were several protests in the city; many people expressing dismay at the jury’s decision.
In Los Angeles, police fired non-lethal – bean bag – baton rounds after demonstrators threw rocks and batteries at officers. One person was arrested but police emphasised that most of the protests were peaceful. Streets were closed off in the city, as well as in San Francisco, where people marched to condemn Zimmerman’s acquittal.
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 motorcycles and on foot. Police called the march “very orderly,” reports Reuters.
After Barack Obama issued a statement from the White House, the department of justice said federal prosecutors would now examine the case for a Federal prosecution under civil rights legislation.
“Experienced federal prosecutors will determine … whether federal prosecution is appropriate in accordance with the department’s policy governing successive federal prosecution following a state trial,” the statement said.
Defense lawyers argued that Martin, 17, attacked Zimmerman, who shot the teen in self-defense. Prosecutors said Zimmerman, 29, who is white and Hispanic, wrongly suspected Martin of being a criminal because he was black.
The pledge to review the case came after the jury ruled that Mr. Zimmerman had acted in self-defence when he shot and killed 17-year-old Martin as the teenager walked home from a sweet shop to his father’s house in a gated community in Sanford, near Orlando, writes the Telegraph.
Mr Zimmerman had called the police after he spotted Trayvon at night wearing a hoodie, but ignored orders not to confront the teenager, who he believed was “up to no good”. A fight ensued during which he shot Trayvon dead.