Skip to main content

Zimmerman verdict reactions ring out in protests, calls from pulpit

By Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
updated 8:55 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, is joined by her son Jahvaris Fulton as she speaks to the crowd during a rally in New York City, Saturday, July 20. A jury in Florida acquitted Zimmerman of all charges related to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. <a href='http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/27/justice/gallery/zimmerman-trial/index.html'>View photos of key moments from the trial.</a> Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin, is joined by her son Jahvaris Fulton as she speaks to the crowd during a rally in New York City, Saturday, July 20. A jury in Florida acquitted Zimmerman of all charges related to the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. View photos of key moments from the trial.
HIDE CAPTION
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Photos: Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
Reaction to Zimmerman verdict
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Protesters rally in New York, Denver, Baltimore and Detroit
  • NEW: "If it can happen to her son, it can happen to anybody's son or daughter," says one
  • Obama urges "calm reflection," asks Americans to reflect on toll of gun violence
  • Leaders call for protests to remain peaceful, push for change

(CNN) -- Just steps away from the courthouse where a jury decided George Zimmerman's fate, demonstrators vowed that their fight wasn't over.

"Nationwide protest to demand justice," they chanted after the jury's not guilty verdict in Sanford, Florida, cleared Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.

It wasn't long before some appeared to be heeding their call.

Protesters rallied in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Denver, Baltimore, Detroit, New York and other cities.

"I came here today to stand in solidarity with Trayvon Martin's family, and everyone else searching for justice for him, and wanting to bring Zimmerman to justice," said Kellie Knight. She spoke at a protest at Union Square in New York City.

Jury finds George Zimmerman not guilty
'Outrage' over Zimmerman verdict
Zimmerman's brother reacts to verdict
Father, son react to Zimmerman verdict

Catch up on the Zimmerman saga in one story

"If it can happen to her son, it can happen to anybody's son or daughter," she said.

Later, a crowd converged on Times Square, chanting: "This is what democracy looks like."

The verdict in the closely watched trial echoed far beyond the central Florida city's borders in a case that drew national attention and has been racially charged from the start.

"Only white life is protected in America," one protester in Washington shouted early Sunday. A crowd lined up outside the White House and sang "Amazing Grace."

Others chanted "No justice, no peace" and "Trayvon was murdered" as they marched, freelance photographer Michael Kandel told CNN's iReport.

The atmosphere was tense as demonstrators demanded that the government investigate further, Kandel said.

"They believe that this is a civil rights issue that must become the topic of a national conversation in the coming days," he said. "They did not believe justice had been served and were pleading for it."

In Dallas, protesters waved signs that said, "Justice system is a joke," CNN affiliate WFAA reported.

Some demonstrators in Denver, Baltimore and Detroit wore hooded sweatshirts like the one Martin wore when he was killed.

In Chicago's Daley Plaza, protesters vowed to use technology to push for change.

"It's the 21st century. We've got Twitter. We've got Instagram. We've got Facebook, we've got all these things that our elders did not have," one woman told the crowd. "We have resources."

Verdict doesn't end debate in Martin's death

Pushing for peace

President Barack Obama called Sunday for "calm reflection," acknowledging the Zimmerman case has stirs strong emotions.

"And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher," he said.

"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.

George Zimmerman is congratulated by members of his defense team, Don West and Lorna Truett, after the not guilty verdict is read on Saturday, July 13, in Sanford, Florida. A jury of six women found him not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. View photos of the public reaction to the verdict. George Zimmerman is congratulated by members of his defense team, Don West and Lorna Truett, after the not guilty verdict is read on Saturday, July 13, in Sanford, Florida. A jury of six women found him not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. View photos of the public reaction to the verdict.
Key moments in the Zimmerman trial
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Zimmerman trial Photos: Zimmerman trial
Martin's parents react to verdict
'Zimmerman should have been found guilty'
Perry: Our justice system is color blind

Most protests have been peaceful, though there were some reports of property damage at a protest in Oakland, California.

"I think we should, frankly, right now be celebrating the fact that we've seen a generation of young people respond by using our system, raising their voices, but not using their fists," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

Analysis: The race factor in Zimmerman's trial

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for protests to continue, and to remain peaceful.

"There will be protests, but they must be carried out with dignity and discipline," he told CNN's "New Day." "Let no act discredit the legacy of Trayvon Martin. In the long run, we will prevail in the struggle for justice. Any act of violence could serve to undermine the innocent blood and moral authority of Trayvon. What will happen if there, in fact, are riots, it gives sympathy to Zimmerman, and discredits Trayvon. Trayvon deserves sympathy. Zimmerman and his school of thought does not."

Zimmerman, his family and their supporters have denied allegations of racism and argued that civil rights groups are being incendiary without facts to back up their claims.

"We have a verdict. I think we should really take a step back, respect that verdict, respect those six women -- an all-women jury, who had to make a really tough call and had to look at this outside all the emotions that were stirred up, and all of the racial innuendo that was stirred up, and just kind of look at the facts," Zimmerman's brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., told CNN on Sunday morning. "And the facts spoke for themselves."

Some applauded the jury for siding with the neighborhood watch volunteer's claims that he shot the teen in self-defense. Others said prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Some said the trial was a referendum on race that confirmed what they knew all along.

"That's our society," Terri Weems said as she headed into church in Washington on Sunday morning. "We expected not to be given justice. We haven't been dealt justice all this time. ... It's very disheartening."

Zimmerman could still be held responsible for Martin's death

Reactions from the pulpit

In churches around the country, the trial was a hot topic on Sunday.

Donna Holmes-Lockett, who was also heading into church in Washington, said she was surprised by the verdict.

Zimmerman should have been punished for the shooting, she said.

"As a mother of black males, I have three sons, it makes me nervous about the reaction of the public toward the situations. I felt like he should have got some kind of, something. He's just walking away free. He did shoot him. It's like it's OK," she said. "I think if it was a black crime on a black person, it would have been a different outcome."

At Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the pastor called for all parishioners under 18 years old to step forward in a tribute to Martin.

"The world needs your voice. Don't let anybody tell you that you're a nobody. We love you and we're counting on you," he told them.

Why this verdict?

"Nobody gets nervous seeing you talk bad and look bad. If you really want to strike fear in the hearts of your adversaries, if you really want to be a real threat, make sure God is in your heart (and) knowledge is in your head."

At churches with close ties to the case, Sunday was a time to reflect and pray.

"We're leaning in and depending on you this morning, oh God, for all of our help," a man said from the pulpit at the Allen Chapel AME Church in Sanford, where a town hall meeting was held after the shooting. "We're not depending on the Sanford Police Department. We're not depending on Seminole County Sheriff. We're not depending on the courts of Seminole County, Florida."

Several members of Martin's family attended services at Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Opa-locka, Florida.

"We're very concerned, very hurt and very disappointed at this point, but we know in the end God will prevail and justice will be served," said Roberta Felton, a cousin.

While the Martin family grieves, Pastor Arthur Jackson III said, the community must prepare to take action.

"I believe this situation has not paralyzed us, has not traumatized us, but is mobilizing us," he said. "It has been a call to rally at the polls, to vote ... to change these unjust laws."

Trayvon's dad: My heart is broken, my faith is not

CNN's Victor Blackwell, Nick Valencia, Jonathan Helman, Jareen Imam, John Zarrella, Jennifer Hauser, Emanuella Grinberg and Alicia Stewart contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
George Zimmerman
updated 8:50 PM EST, Wed February 5, 2014
Let's get ready to ... mumble.
updated 8:35 PM EST, Fri January 24, 2014
George Zimmerman, who sold his first painting on eBay for a whopping $100,000, is at it again.
updated 2:41 PM EDT, Sun September 29, 2013
George Zimmerman's estranged wife said that while she respects the jury's not guilty verdict in his second-degree murder trial, she now has doubts about his innocence.
updated 1:11 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
George Zimmerman's defense team says people should delve into the "substance" of other comments made by a juror who claimed the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
updated 1:12 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
A juror in the George Zimmerman trial says she feels the man who killed Trayvon Martin "got away with murder."
updated 3:52 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Four days after he was acquitted of murder, George Zimmerman stepped out of seclusion to help a family.
updated 1:09 PM EDT, Sun July 28, 2013
Florida law kept George Zimmerman from being held accountable in last year's shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, the teen's mom said.
updated 10:10 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
Vowing to keep fighting for his son Trayvon -- even after Zimmerman was acquitted of murder -- Tracy Martin said that his family wants to turn "negative energy" surrounding their plight "into a positive."
updated 12:54 PM EDT, Sat July 20, 2013
The nation has a long history of self-defense laws. Almost every state allows some version of the "castle" defense, as in "a man's home is his castle."
updated 12:43 AM EDT, Thu July 18, 2013
The woman known as Juror B37 in the George Zimmerman trial released a statement exclusively to CNN pushing for new laws.
updated 4:57 PM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
One of the jurors who acquitted George Zimmerman said she had "no doubt" he feared for his life in the final moments of his struggle with Trayvon Martin.
updated 8:54 AM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
George Zimmerman "didn't do anything unlawful" and was "justified" in shooting 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, according to one of the jurors who acquitted Zimmerman.
updated 1:04 AM EDT, Wed July 17, 2013
The friend who was on the phone with Trayvon Martin when his fatal confrontation with Zimmerman said she is upset at his acquittal on murder charges.
updated 9:49 AM EDT, Tue July 16, 2013
His trial's over. And now it turns out that George Zimmerman might need the same thing millions of Americans are looking for: a job.
updated 10:16 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
An employee of the Florida State Attorney's Office who testified that prosecutors withheld evidence from George Zimmerman's defense team has been fired.
updated 10:02 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
This might sound like a legal conundrum.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon July 15, 2013
Suspected racism in the justice system, deep-seated, secretive and historic, was the crux of the case for millions, writes Tom Foreman.
updated 11:33 AM EDT, Fri March 30, 2012
Just like most any other teenager, Trayvon Martin enjoyed listening to music and going to the movies, friends and family said.
updated 3:38 PM EDT, Tue July 2, 2013
With a single phrase, Rachel Jeantel, that friend of Trayvon Martin's, may have lit a fuse in the trial of his accused killer.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT