People carry a photo of Trayvon Martin during a march to protest the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial in Los Angeles. Photo by Reuters
Trayvon Martin's mother choked back tears as a crowd of 2,000
New Yorkers chanted "We love you" - one week after George
Zimmerman was acquitted of murder by a Florida jury in the
fatal shooting of the unarmed black teenager.
Across the nation, hundreds marched in the heat of a summer
Saturday (local time) to rally at federal courthouses in
Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities, demanding
"Justice for Trayvon."
In Miami, Tracy Martin told about 300 supporters of his son's
cause that, after the acquittal, he has "come to realize
George Zimmerman wasn't on trial - Trayvon was on trial."
In New York, hip-hop mogul Jay-Z and singer Beyonce, his
wife, arrived at one of the largest of the protests organizer
Rev. Al Sharpton said were planned for 100 cities nationwide.
Martin's mother stifled sobs as she told the crowd: "Not only
I vow to do what I have to do for Trayvon Martin, I promise
I'm going to work hard for your children as well."
Among "Boycott Florida" signs were protesters wearing
T-shirts with a photo image of Martin in a hooded sweatshirt.
"I've got four beautiful daughters. I want them to look
forward rather than behind their backs," said Harlem resident
Maria Lopez, 31, who attended the rally with her children.
Visible above the neckline of her Trayvon T-shirt was a
tattoo of a packet of Skittles, the candy the teen was
carrying when he was shot dead by the neighborhood watchman.
Civil rights leaders had voiced hopes for peaceful protests
after outbreaks of violence that earlier this week led to
arrests in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.
Late last Saturday night, a Seminole County jury in central
Florida acquitted George Zimmerman, who is part Hispanic, of
second-degree murder and manslaughter in the incident, where
17-year-old Martin was shot through the heart.
About 500 people converged on the federal courthouse in Los
Angeles under gray skies, toting signs saying 'Open Season on
the Black Man' and 'This Should Not Be OK in 2013 America."
Protesters' chants - "No Justice, No peace" - echoed across
the courthouse plaza in call-and-response form.
Another speaker shouted out: "Who was that cryin'?" and the
crowd responded: "Trayvon Martin." That exchange was in
reference to conflicting testimony about the high-pitched
screams for help captured on the 911 call, that were
identified by Martin's mother as being Trayvon's, and by
Zimmerman's mother as her own son's.
Farther north in foggy downtown San Francisco, about 100
people stood in front of the Federal Building.
Reverend Arnold Townsend, 70, vice president of the local
NAACP chapter, vowed to "bring to light this incident let
black children know the system has them under attack."
At the White House on Friday, President Barack Obama
cautioned against violence, as he urged all Americans to try
to understand the Martin case from the perspective of
"There is a history of racial disparities in the application
of our criminal laws," Obama said. "A lot of African-American
boys are painted with a broad brush. If a white male teen was
involved in the same kind of scenario ... both the outcome
and the aftermath might have been different."
Zimmerman remained free for more than six weeks after the
incident because Sanford, Florida, police accepted that he
had acted in self-defense. That ignited protests and cries of
injustice across the country, shining a spotlight on issues
such as race, profiling and vigilantism.
'A WORLD WHERE RACISM EXISTS'
Sharpton has said he hopes continued public pressure will
force the Justice Department to bring a civil rights case
Federal prosecutors have said they are investigating whether
Zimmerman violated civil rights laws. But lawyers with civil
rights expertise have said they think new charges are
Public comments from one of the six jurors, citing Florida's
Stand Your Ground law as a factor in reaching her conclusion
that Zimmerman acted in self-defense, has stepped up pressure
on the state's legislature to repeal or change the law.
The jury was told that Zimmerman had "no duty to retreat and
right to stand his ground and meet force with force,
including deadly force, if he reasonably believed it was
necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm to
Although Stand Your Ground was not cited as part of the
defense, the jury's instructions came from the 2005 statute.
Florida Governor Rick Scott told a sit-in outside his office
in Tallahassee on Thursday that he supports the law and has
no plans to convene a special legislative session to change
"We still live in a world where racism exists,'' said Rev.
Reginald Edwards at the U.S. District Courthouse in
Tallahassee, where nearly 80 protesters assembled at midday
to urge federal officials to charge Zimmerman with civil