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Sunday 24 September 2017

Trayvon 'justice movement' pledge

A protester confronts a Los Angles police officer during a demonstration over the acquittal of George Zimmerman (AP)
A protester confronts a Los Angles police officer during a demonstration over the acquittal of George Zimmerman (AP)
A protester stomps on a van during a demonstration in Los Angeles (AP)
Police officers work to extinguish a fire during a protest after George Zimmerman was found not guilty (AP/Bay Area News Group, Anda Chu)
People join a demonstration led by activist Quanell X in Houston (AP/Houston Chronicle)
J'hiana Jlapion sits on the shoulders of her father Jabari Jlapion during a protest in Atlanta (AP)
A group walk down Park Avenue in Worcester, Massachusetts in protest after the acquittal of George Zimmerman (AP)
George Zimmerman leaves court after his not guilty verdict (AP/Joe Burbank)
The Rev Al Sharpton speaks in front of Trayvon Martin's parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton (AP)

Civil rights leaders stepped up plans for vigils and rallies in 100 US cities to press the government to bring charges against the former-neighbourhood watch volunteer cleared of killing an unarmed black teenager.

George Zimmerman was charged with second-degree murder over the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin last year, but a jury of six women found him not guilty of that charge as well as the lesser charge of manslaughter.

"People all across the country will gather to show that we are not having a two or three-day anger fit. This is a social movement for justice," the Rev Al Sharpton said as he announced the weekend vigils outside the Justice Department in Washington DC.

They will take place in front of federal court buildings at noon on Saturday in cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.

Trayvon was visiting his father in Sanford, Florida, and returning to the home of his father's fiancee after a trip to the store when Mr Zimmerman identified him as a potential criminal. The neighbourhood watchman shot him during a physical confrontation in the gated community in February 2012.

Sharpton says vigils will be followed by a conference next week in Miami to develop a plan to address Florida's "stand-your-ground" law which allows people to use deadly force if they fear death or bodily harm.

US attorney general Eric Holder said such laws, which exist in many states, needed to be reassessed. "Separate and apart from the case that has drawn the nation's attention, it's time to question laws that senselessly expand the concept of self-defence and sow dangerous conflict in our neighbourhoods," Mr Holder said during a speech before a convention of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People (NAACP) civil rights group.

Meanwhile, protests over Mr Zimmerman's acquittal were held as far away as California. In Los Angeles, people ran through the streets on Monday night, breaking windows, attacking people on pavements and raiding a Wal-Mart store, while others blocked a major freeway in the San Francisco Bay area in the third night of demonstrations.

Fourteen people were arrested after acts of vandalism and several assaults. Los Angeles police vowed to crack down with quick action and arrests if further disturbances arose. "For those of you who were here last night and came for the wrong reasons, if you come here again tonight, you will go to jail," police Chief Charlie Beck said at a news conference.

The Justice Department is looking into Trayvon's death to determine whether federal prosecutors will file criminal civil rights charges against Mr Zimmerman, who is now a free man. His lawyer has told ABC News that Mr Zimmerman will get his gun back and intends to arm himself again.

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