Saturday 18 November 2017

Angry protesters take to streets as George Zimmerman cleared - but further charges could follow

Police officers wait for demonstrators to arrive on Crenshaw Boulevard near the I-10 freeway during a protest in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 14, 2013, the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin
Police officers wait for demonstrators to arrive on Crenshaw Boulevard near the I-10 freeway during a protest in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 14, 2013, the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin
A police officer stands guard as demonstrators march on Crenshaw Boulevard near the I-10 freeway during a protest in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 14, 2013, the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin
Police officers push back a protestor on the 10 Freeway after demonstrators angry at the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of black teen Trayvon Martin walk onto the 10 Freeway stopping highway traffic, in Los Angeles, California July 14, 2013
Police officers hold a line against demonstrators on Crenshaw Boulevard near the I-10 freeway during a protest in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 14, 2013, the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin
Demonstrators protest in a car on Crenshaw Boulevard during a protest in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 14, 2013, the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin
Throngs of marches gather on Times Square as they listen to a speaker, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York, for a protest against the acquittal of volunteer neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Fla
Demonstrators gather on 34th Street as police attempt to prevent them from moving uptown, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York, during a march against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida
Marchers gather together on Times Square, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York, for a protest against the acquittal of volunteer neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida
Demonstrators march through the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, Sunday, July 14, 2013, holding a cut-out of Trayvon Martin during a protest against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of the 17-year-old in Florida
Demonstrators mass in Times Square after a march against the acquittal of neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida, Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York
Jediah Jones, 3, holds a sign as her mother Keiota Jones, stands behind her during a protest the day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of teenager Trayvon Martin, Sunday, July 14, 2013
A demonstrator protests in Los Angeles on Sunday, July 14, 2013, a day after George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)
A cut out picture of Trayvon Martin is held aloft by marchers on Times Square Sunday, July 14, 2013, in New York, as they gathered for a protest against the acquittal of volunteer neighborhood watch member George Zimmerman in the 2012 killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford
George Zimmerman (right) is congratulated by his defence team after being found not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin
Trayvon Martin
Worshippers hold prayer services wearing hoodies in support of the slain teenage
A police vehicle that was vandalised during a protest after the verdict

Adam Withnall

US protesters brought Times Square to a standstill last night, as celebrities and the public expressed outrage at the acquittal of George Zimmerman over the shooting of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

There were demonstrations in Washington just hours after the verdict was announced late on Saturday, and on Sunday night in New York police lines were broken as thousands of marchers chanted: “Justice for Trayvon Martin!”

The killing has sparked a national debate over racial profiling and equal justice, and earlier protests in San Francisco and Los Angeles were dispersed by police firing beanbag rounds.

Civil rights leaders have called for anyone expressing their anger to do so peacefully, and most have complied. The Reverend Jesse Jackson said the legal system had “failed justice”, but added that violence is not the answer.

President Barack Obama called Mr Martin's death a tragedy, taking the unusual action of issuing a statement on a case not involving the federal government.

He urged calm, saying: “I know this case has elicited strong passions. And in the wake of the verdict, I know those passions may be running even higher. But we are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken.”

At London’s Wireless festival last night closing act Jay-Z thanked the crowds and added: “Rest in peace, Trayvon Martin.” Also performing - in their first show for 20 years - were hip-hop pioneers A Tribe Called Quest, who issued their own call for peace.

“I don't want to be a downer but yesterday in America, we saw a miscarriage of justice,” said band member Q-Tip. “It's not the first time this has happened. Pray for us... we need help.”

In New York, the Times Square protest continued late into the night after a rally starting in Union Square at 2pm gathered momentum on its way north. Once it arrived at the famously busy intersection the number of people was “overwhelming”, according to reports from the New York Post.

Protesters jumped on ticket booths and trucks, using loudspeakers to proclaim: “We’ve taken over Times Square!” They told reporters: “We want equality,” adding that: “We will continue to interrupt your lives until we get justice.”

The anger came after a jury on Saturday found 29-year-old neighbourhood watch volunteer Mr Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder and declined to convict him on a lesser charge of manslaughter.

Jurors were told that Zimmerman was allowed to use deadly force when he shot the unarmed 17-year-old not only if he actually faced death or bodily harm, but also if he just thought he did.

He is not completely in the clear, as the Justice Department said it is looking into the possibility of filing criminal civil rights charges against Mr Zimmerman.             

And his brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr, told CNN: ”He's going to be looking over his shoulder the rest of his life.”

Independent News Service

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