8 Signs the Zimmerman Verdict May Have Big Ramifications
Photo Credit: David Shankbone
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George Zimmerman’s acquittal in the killing of Trayvon Martin left many Americans shaken. Perhaps it was the sheer clarity of the verdict, which sent the message that in this country, a person can racially profile, stalk and kill a kid — and walk away free. The verdict inspired tens of thousands of people to get on the streets nationwide. Government officials, civil rights leaders, athletes, celebrities and even President Obama have spoken out.
A Washington Post-ABC News Poll revealed that Americans were split on the verdict. However, 86 percent of African Americans disapproved of the verdict, while 51 percent of whites were in favor of it. While the numbers reveal a racial divide, multi-racial groups are still forming to seek justice. Indeed, the ongoing outcry over Zimmerman’s acquittal is so strong, persistent and diverse that it may actually spark some change.
Here are eight signs that Zimmerman’s acquittal may have big ramifications.
1. Rallies and vigils for Trayvon Martin continue. “Justice for Trayvon” rallies have been happening nationwide, nearly non-stop. These rallies, sometimes including vigils, conjured anger around the unjust killing.
Over the weekend, rallies took place in more than 100 cities around the country including New York City, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Denver and Austin. In Los Angeles, people shut down a highway for 20 minutes. In New York, it’s estimated that 10,000 marched, with Jay-Z and Beyonce among them. Al Sharpton, whose National Action Network helped organize many of the protests, was also in attendance as well as Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton. Fulton spoke out at the rally, saying: “We have moved on from the verdict. Of course we're hurting. Of course we're shocked and disappointed. But that just means that we have to roll up our sleeves and continue to fight.”
Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, led a rally in Miami, where protesters gathered and sang, “We Shall Overcome.” He said: “I vowed to Trayvon, when he was lying in his casket, that I would use every ounce of energy in my body to seek justice for him ... Senseless violence is a disease and we as a people have the cure, we just need to come together.”
2. NAACP puts pressure on the DOJ. The NAACP is leading the way in pressuring the Department of Justice to file civil rights charges against Zimmerman. On Saturday, the organization launched a petition stating that “The most fundamental of civil rights — the right to life — was violated the night George Zimmerman stalked and then took the life of Trayvon Martin.” The petition garnered 1.5 million signatures in three days.
The NAACP’s president, Ben Jealous, spoke to senior DOJ officials to pressure them to continue their investigation of the case. Attorney General Eric Holder has said a thorough investigation will be conducted as to whether Zimmerman violated civil rights law. Sanford Police Department said it turned over all the evidence, as well as Zimmerman’s gun, to the DOJ. Holder has called Martin's death “tragic” and “unnecessary.” He also said the DOJ “will continue to act in a manner that is consistent with the facts and the law. We will not be afraid.”
3. Activists organize a sit-in at Rick Scott’s office. A group of young activists have held a weeklong occupation of Florida governor Rick Scott’s office, demanding that he call a special session on the state’s "Stand Your Ground" law and racial profiling. The activists, called the Dream Defenders, have organized different working groups that will make sure the group sustains its ability to occupy. They also announced that they are planning on holding weekly demonstrations in the state’s capitol, similar to North Carolina's "Moral Mondays" protests.