Zimmerman not guilty verdict sparks diverse opinions, protests throughout nation

| July 16, 2013

Frost Illustrated Staff Report

SANFORD, Fla.—The jury has spoken but the debate continues over the killing of Florida teen Trayvon Martin and the now successful legal claim of self-defense by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman, who fired the fatal shot that killed Martin the night of Feb. 26, 2012.

On July 13—more than a year after the shooting—a jury of six women found Zimmerman not guilty of a charge of second degree murder and not guilty of a last-minute considered charge of manslaughter.

But, the verdict in the racially-charged case, based largely on claims that Zimmerman—a “white” Hispanic”—had racially profiled the unarmed black teen who was traveling through a gated community on foot from a convenience store to his father’s house in the neighborhood, has not ended the uproar in the case. Proponents of the “stand your ground” law under which Zimmerman claimed he was justified in killing Martin after the teen allegedly attacked him during a confrontation have praised the verdict. Others, particularly in the African American community, are dismayed with Zimmerman’s acquittal despite evidence that points to Zimmerman initiating the conflict by following Martin after police instructed him not to do so. Peaceful protests have been organized throughout the nation calling the verdict and injustice.

In the wake of the verdict, which many had predicted would cause rioting and other violent civil unrest, President Barack Obama issued the following statement on the White House website (http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/07/14/statement-president):

“The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy.  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.  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.  We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence that claims too many lives across this country on a daily basis.  We should ask ourselves, as individuals and as a society, how we can prevent future tragedies like this.  As citizens, that’s a job for all of us.  That’s the way to honor Trayvon Martin.”

Locally, people were talking on the streets and in church on Sunday morning.

The Rev. Kenneth Christmon spoke during Sunday morning worship service at Turner Chapel AME Church about the need for this nation to stop avoiding the issue of racism, which goes against Christ’s teaching of love, compassion and brotherhood. Christmon said after hearing the Saturday evening verdict, he went out and bought a bag of Skittles and a can of Arizona Iced Tea—the items Martin had purchased at the convenience store just before he was killed. He said it was in remembrance of the tragic death of a young man and the tragedy of racial divide in this country.

The Rev. Dr. Terry Anderson, a well-known peace advocate, who delivered the Sunday morning message, said that there was a need in the nation for righteous anger at injustice in this country and that everyone should be motivated to follow Christ’s lead in fighting for justice on behalf of the disenfranchised in our society.

Community elder, Brother Omowale-Ketu Oladuwa said that when he first heard the verdict, a desire for revenge welled up in the pit of his stomach but he had to “spit out” that desire.

“We need healing, not revenge,” he said.

For more on the George Zimmerman verdict, see upcoming editions of Frost Illustrated.

 

This article originally appeared in the July 17 print edition.

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Frost Illustrated is Fort Wayne's oldest weekly newspaper. Your Independent Voice in the Community, featuring news & views of African Americans since 1968.

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