The “Not Guilty” verdict in the George Zimmerman trial has grazed the soul of the nation. The decision by the six jurors reverberated inside prayer houses, gathering places, and out on the streets.
It echoed in street demonstrations across the country as protesters spilled out of their homes to voice their outrage.
Experts say it has further polarized the nation. Fierce debate has ensued about race, crime, and the American justice system. The race polarizing issue has again divided America, they say.
Here is what some are saying: A black youth was walking in a quiet neighborhood in Florida. A white Hispanic man made an assumption that the black youth, who was unarmed, had no business being in the neighborhood. According to the prosecutors in the case, the man armed with a gun, followed the youth and ended up killing him. And to the utter disbelief of many following the case, was found not guilty of all charges.
Reports say, in New York, demonstrators were joined by lawmakers and members of the clergy. They were protesting the verdict, describing it as evidence that persistent racism is still entrenched in the nation, albeit the fact that a first African-American president was elected five years ago.
In the gathering darkness in New York, the small rally that had begun during the day in Union Square, swelled to a crowd of thousands. Chanting protesters were escorted by dozens of police cars and officers on foot. They wound through Midtown Manhattan toward Times Square in an unexpected procession. Hundreds of onlookers joined the parade and brought traffic to a standstill, according to reports.
The George Zimmerman ‘Not Guilty’ verdict that has grazed the soul of the nation was echoed in churches in cities across the nation.
In Atlanta, the Rev. Dr. Raphael G. Warnock, senior pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church spoke to his congregation, once led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Trayvon Benjamin Martin is dead because he and other black boys and men like him are seen not as a person but a problem.”
Dr. Warnock observed that the verdict came less than a month after the Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 to negate a provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“The last few weeks have been pivotal to the consciousness of black America,” he later told reporters. “Black men have been stigmatized.”
In Sanford, Florida, the venue of the shooting of Trayvon, the Rev.Valarie J. Houston expressed her feelings at the Allen Chapel A.M.E. Her condemnation of “the racism and the injustice that pollute the air in America,” drew shouts of support and indignation.
“Lord, I thank you for sending Trayvon to reveal the injustices, God, that live in Sanford,” she said.
President Obama in a statement on Sunday urged Americans to respect the rule of law.
“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy,” he said. “Not just for his family, or for any one community, but for America. 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.”
Zimmerman and his supporters rejected the notion that race played a factor in the death of Trayvon. Zimmerman’s defense had argued that Zimmerman acted in self-defense as the 17-year-old Trayvon attacked Zimmerman and slammed his head on the sidewalk.
Florida law explicitly gives civilians the power to take extraordinary steps to defend themselves when they feel that their lives are threatened.
Zimmerman’s brother, Robert, told reporters that race did not factor in the case.
“I never have a moment where I think that my brother may have been wrong to shoot. He used the sidewalk against my brother’s head,” he said echoing the defense argument that Trayvon attacked Zimmerman.
In the wake of George Zimmerman’s “Not Guilty” verdict that has grazed the soul of the nation, the Justice Department said Sunday that it was restarting its investigation to consider possible separate hate crime charges against Zimmerman.
By Perviz Walji