Friday 15 November 2019

Trayvon family shocked by acquittal

The acquittal of neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has sparked protests (AP)
The acquittal of neighbourhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman has sparked protests (AP)

Trayvon Martin's parents have said they are still in shock and disbelief that jurors acquitted George Zimmerman over the death of their 17-year-old son.

On NBC's Today show, his mother Sybrina Fulton questioned whether jurors looked at the shooting from her son's point of view. She said the verdict failed Trayvon, a teenager who was scared.

The boy's father, Tracy Martin, said the family believed the killer of their "unarmed child" was going to be convicted. It was the first time they had spoken publicly since the verdict was announced on Saturday following a three-week trial in central Florida.

Prosecutors accused Mr Zimmerman, who identifies himself as Hispanic, of profiling Trayvon, who was black. Mr Zimmerman claimed he shot him in self-defence and faced second-degree murder charges

Protests over the acquittal led to the arrests of 17 people in a southern California town on Wednesday night. Eight of the 17 people arrested in Victorville were juveniles, according to San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department.

Most of the arrests in the city about 85 miles north-east of Los Angeles were on charges of unlawful assembly, the Los Angeles Times reported. Authorities told the paper that most of the 80 people who took part in the demonstration were peaceful. Earlier this week, Los Angeles and Oakland were flashpoints for violent reactions following Saturday's acquittal.

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

Civil rights leaders have stepped up plans for vigils and rallies in 100 US cities to press the government to bring civil charges against Mr Zimmerman. A jury of six women found him not guilty of murder as well as the lesser charge of manslaughter.

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

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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