Preachers, protesters voice disappointment

2013-07-15T00:00:00Z Preachers, protesters voice disappointmentThe Associated Press The Associated Press
July 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

From New York to California, outrage over the acquittal in George Zimmerman's murder trial poured from street demonstrations and church pulpits Sunday as protesters called for justice for the unarmed youth he killed and demanded federal civil rights charges against him.

Demonstrations large and small broke out across the country - ranging from a few dozen more than a thousand - in support of the family of Trayvon Martin as protesters decried the not guilty verdict as a miscarriage of justice.

One protest in California hours after the verdict late Saturday ended with vandalism while police dispersed another crowd by firing beanbag rounds.

President Obama called the death of Trayvon Martin a tragedy for the country and urged calm reflection, a message shared by religious and civil rights leaders hoping to ensure peaceful demonstrations.

In New York City, hundreds of protesters marched into Times Square on Sunday night, zigzagging through Manhattan's streets to avoid police lines. Sign-carrying marchers thronged the busy intersection, chanting "Justice for! Trayvon Martin!" as they made their way from Union Square, blocking traffic for more than an hour before moving on.

In San Francisco and Los Angeles - where an earlier protest was dispersed with beanbag rounds - police closed streets as protesters marched Sunday to condemn Zimmerman's acquittal.

In Manhattan, congregants at Middle Collegiate Church were encouraged to wear hooded sweatshirts in the memory of Martin, who was wearing a hoodie the night he was shot to death in February 2012.

The Rev. Jacqueline Lewis, wearing a pink hoodie, urged peace and told her congregation that Martin Luther King Jr. "would have wanted us to conduct ourselves on the highest plane of dignity."

But "we're going to raise our voices against the root causes of this kind of tragedy," she said. "We'll aim our fight for justice against the ease with which people can get firearms in this country."

Congregant Jessica Nacinovich, also wearing a hoodie, said she could only feel disappointment and sadness over the verdict.

"I just wanted to come and be here with everybody in solidarity and talk and pray and sing about where we go from here," she said. "I'm sure jurors did what they felt was right in accordance with the law, but maybe the law is wrong; maybe society is wrong; there's a lot that needs fixing."

At a youth service in Sanford, Fla., where the trial was held, teens wearing shirts displaying Martin's picture wiped away tears during a sermon at St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Hours after the verdict, demonstrators gathered on U Street in Washington, D.C., chanting, "No justice, no peace."

In Oakland, Calif., some angry demonstrators broke windows, burned U.S. flags and started street fires.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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