Fears of violent reaction to Zimmerman verdict misplaced: Sharpton

Brooklyn Currents | 7/14/2013 | 0 comments

Trayvon Martin
Fears of violent reactions in black communities in Brooklyn and elsewhere to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, are unfounded, says activist Al Sharpton.

"We cannot, no matter what happens, smear the name and legacy of  Trayvon Martin," Sharpton said. "And let me remind y'all, we didn't have violence after Sean Bell and we didn't like that verdict. We didn't have it after Amadou Diallo and we didn't like that verdict. Quit criminalizing the black community."

In their verdict released Saturday night, July 13, the sequestered jury of six women, including one black, decided that the prosecution failed to prove its case that Zimmerman was a vigilante who racially profiled Martin, pursued him even though 911 dispatchers discouraged him from doing so, and shot the unarmed teen in a struggle. The defense argued that Zimmerman shot Martin in self-defense.

The shooting, on February 26, 2012, ignited a nationwide controversy on racial profiling, gun ownership, and the "Stand your ground" self-defense laws of Florida and a few other states.

Massive demonstrations were held in towns and cities across the country on Sunday, July 14 -- including in Times Square and Union Square -- but there were no reports of violence.

The Associated Press reported:

With chants and prayers, sermons and signs, outrage over a jury's decision to clear George Zimmerman in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager poured from street protests and church pulpits Sunday amid calls for federal civil rights charges to be filed in the case.

Demonstrations large and small broke out across the country — ranging from a few dozen more than a thousand — in support of the family of Trayvon Martin as protesters decried the not guilty verdict as a miscarriage of justice.

The NAACP and protesters called for federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman, who was acquitted Saturday in Martin's February 2012 shooting death, which unleashed a national debate over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice.

The Justice Department said it is looking into the case to determine whether federal prosecutors should file criminal civil rights charges now that Zimmerman has been acquitted in the state case. Meanwhile, President Barack Obama and religious and civil rights leaders urged calm in hopes of ensuring peaceful demonstrations in the wake of a case that became an emotional flash point.

Hundreds of protesters marched into Times Square on Sunday night, zigzagging through Manhattan's streets to avoid police lines. Sign-carrying marchers thronged the busy intersection, chanting "Justice for Trayvon Martin!" as they made their way from Union Square, blocking traffic for more than an hour before moving on.
In San Francisco and Los Angeles — where an earlier protest was dispersed with beanbag rounds — police closed streets as protesters marched Sunday to condemn Zimmerman's acquittal.
Rand Powdrill, 41, of San Leandro, said he came to the San Francisco march with about 400 others to "protest the execution of an innocent black teenager."
"If our voices can't be heard, then this is just going to keep going on," he said.
Earlier, at Manhattan's Middle Collegiate Church, many congregants wore hooded sweatshirts — the same thing Martin was wearing the night he was shot — in a show of solidarity. Hoodie-clad Jessica Nacinovich said she could only feel disappointment and sadness over the verdict.
"I'm sure jurors did what they felt was right in accordance with the law but maybe the law is wrong, maybe society is wrong; there's a lot that needs fixing," she said.

Demonstrators converge on Union Square in New York …
Demonstrators protest in Union Square in Manhattan on Sunday, July 14


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