Sunday 19 November 2017

Zimmerman verdict sparks clashes in LA

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
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 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 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

Tim Walker Los Angeles

Violent clashes have been reported in LA as police and protesters clashed after George Zimmerman's acquittal over the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.

The LAPD said officers fired non-lethal bean bag rounds to disperse the crowd after protesters threw batteries and rocks at police.

Protesters have been marching on I-10 highway in the Crenshaw neighbourhood in southwestern LA.

A number of arrests were made after 80 protesters gathered outside the CNN building in Hollywood chanting "No Justice, No Peace", the LA Times reported.

Elsewhere the demonstrations were largely peaceful though in Oakland, California some protesters burned the American flag, vandalised cars and smashed windows.

In New York, several thousand demonstrators gathered in Times Square carrying signs with portraits of Mr Martin, while others donned hooded sweatshirts as the 17-year-old did the night he was killed.

Boston, San Francisco and Chicago also saw large protests, while spontaneous marches sprang up in Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta and the Florida state capital, Tallahassee.

Protests broke out across the US after George Zimmerman, the neighbourhood watch volunteer accused of murdering Trayvon Martin, an unarmed black teenager, was cleared of all charges against him.

Authorities had asked the residents of Sanford, Florida – where the killing and subsequent trial took place – to keep the peace after hearing the verdict on Saturday night in a case that has gripped the US.

As dawn broke the riots feared by the police had failed to materialise, but peaceful protests had been reported as far afield as Washington, New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and San Francisco.

In Los Angeles, around 200 demonstrators gathered for a vigil in one of the city's African-American neighbourhoods, Leimert Park. Police in Oakland, California, said a small crowd took to the streets, with some breaking windows, spraying anti-police graffiti and burning US and California state flags. No arrests were made.

DEJECTED

Last night the president said in a White House statement that Trayvon's death was a tragedy, "not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America", but called for calm amid fears that "passions may be running even higher" following the verdict.

"We are a nation of laws, and a jury has spoken. 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," it said.

Meanwhile, outside the courthouse in Florida, about 100 protesters punched the air defiantly as they heard the verdict, chanting, "No justice, no peace!" But an hour or so later, the dejected crowd began to disperse.

Mr Zimmerman (then 28) killed 17-year-old Trayvon on the evening of February 26, 2012, at The Retreat, a gated community on the outskirts of Sanford.

The jury of six women and six men heard testimony from more than 50 witnesses during the five-week trial. They returned their verdict following 16 hours of deliberations.

Mr Zimmerman had been charged with second-degree murder, though the jurors were also given the option of convicting him on the lesser charge of manslaughter. They chose neither.

Judge Debra Nelson warned the crowded courtroom that there should be "no outbursts upon the reading of the verdict or afterwards".

Mr Zimmerman appeared emotionless as he was declared not guilty, but smiled as the judge informed him that he was free to go.

The verdict implies that Mr Zimmerman acted in self-defence, and was justified under Florida law in using deadly force "to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm" to himself. On the night in question, Mr Zimmerman, a resident of The Retreat, was driving through the neighbourhood when he spotted Trayvon in the rain wearing a grey hoodie.

SUSPICIOUS

The teenager had just bought a soft drink and a packet of Skittles at a local convenience store, and was returning to the nearby house where he was staying with friends.

Mr Zimmerman called police claiming Trayvon looked suspicious. The dispatcher told him to wait for officers to arrive. "F**king punks," said Mr Zimmerman. "They always get away."

What happened next may never be clear. Prosecutors said Mr Zimmerman left his car to pursue Trayvon on foot.

Mr Zimmerman's lawyers claimed Trayvon confronted and attacked their client, knocking him to the ground, striking his head on the pavement and reaching for his gun.

The altercation ended with Mr Zimmerman firing a shot from his 9mm pistol that hit Trayvon in the chest.

The police declined to charge Mr Zimmerman due to Florida's 'stand-your-ground' law, which allows anyone who considers themselves in danger to take whatever action they deem appropriate to defend themselves.

Civil rights leaders argued that the half-Peruvian Mr Zimmerman targeted Trayvon – who had no criminal record – because he was black.

A month after the shooting, President Obama addressed the issue, saying: "If I had a son, he'd look like Trayvon."

Finally, on April 11, 2012, the Florida state attorney Angela Corey charged Mr Zimmerman with murder.

During his trial, jurors were asked to decide whether the defendant was a dangerous vigilante or a concerned citizen backed into a corner.

They were not helped by the sharply contradictory testimony of witnesses: one, Jonathan Good, told the court he saw Trayvon on top of Mr Zimmerman as the two fought.

Another, Selma Mora, said Mr Zimmerman had the upper hand before the fatal shot rang out.

TRAGEDY

Prosecutors did their best to persuade the court Mr Zimmerman had taken the law into his own hands. Prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda insisted: "A teenager is dead through no fault of his own. He's dead because another man made an assumption."

Mr Zimmerman's lawyer, Mark O'Mara, told the jury Trayvon's death was "a tragedy, but you can't allow sympathy to feed into it".

Civil-rights leaders were outraged by the verdict, which the Rev Al Sharpton described as "an atrocity". Roslyn M Brock, the chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, called on the US Department of Justice to investigate alleged civil- rights violations committed against Trayvon.

Irish Independent

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