UNITED STATES

Trayvon Martin

Thousands march across US against not guilty verdict for Zimmerman

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 10:39am

Thousands protested across the United States on Sunday against the acquittal of neighbourhood watchman George Zimmerman, a day after his trial for killing unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin ended in Florida.

Demonstrators rallied noisily, but peacefully, in cities including New York, San Francisco, Boston and Chicago.

In Los Angeles, police in riot gear were deployed on Hollywood Boulevard but the rally proceeded without incident. About 150 protesters blocked traffic on a freeway elsewhere in the city.

In the pre-dawn hours demonstrators smashed windows and vandalised cars in Oakland, California.

Spontaneous marches were also held in Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta and the Florida state capital, Tallahassee.

Video: Thousands protest in New York

The largest rally was in New York, where several thousand - including families with children - marched to Times Square under the watchful eye of police.

Many in the multiracial crowd brandished signs bearing a portrait of Martin, while some, despite sweltering heat, wore "hoodie" sweatshirts, like the 17-year-old on the night he was killed.

"I am appalled," said hairdresser Carli VanVoorhis, 21. "The man was armed, the kid was not, and the man with the gun got away. If we say it was not a racial issue, we would be lying."

Chants included "The people say guilty" and "No justice, no peace". Signs included "Jail racist killers, not black youth", and "We are all Trayvon. The whole damn system is guilty". A marcher wore a T-shirt proclaiming: "I'm black. Please don't shoot."

"We have a big problem with race, and another problem is guns," said protester Rodney Rodriguez. "If Zimmerman didn't have a gun, he couldn't have killed Trayvon Martin."

Derreck Wilson said the group had come "to say in a peaceful way why we are angry. We are angry, scared and anxious. It's cathartic. We all have the same desires. I want to be able to have my son to come home," said Wilson, who came to the protest from the traditionally African-American neighbourhood of Harlem.

Rhada Blank also came from Harlem. "I was sick to my stomach when I heard the verdict, I felt ashamed," she said. "I don't feel good about being American today. We have a lot of work to do."