Protests erupt from coast to coast after George Zimmerman goes FREE: Second day of demonstrations planned after night of anger
- Florida jury took just over 16 hours to reach the verdict which was handed down on Saturday
- Twitter users calls neighborhood watch volunteer ‘dead man walking’
Demonstrations, from Florida where the trial took place to Atlanta, DC and New York, remained largely peaceful – although pockets of violence had erupted in Oakland, California.
Crowds carried signs calling for justice as police assembled close by to monitor activity – fearful that strong reactions to the verdict could spill over into rioting amid racial tensions.
Zimmerman, a 29-year-old Hispanic, looked visibly relieved at the Seminole court on Saturday evening after the jury of six women reached their conclusion that he had justifiably killed the unarmed black 17-year-old last February.
Scroll down for video
Violence: Protestors in Oakland, California, set fire to garbage cans and and battered cars during a protest against the George Zimmerman acquittal on Saturday
Demonstrators also burned an American flag to show their displeasure with the jury verdict, which saw Zimmerman go free
Distress: A mother who was listening to the end of the Zimmerman trial with her children weeps at the jury’s decision
Rally: Protesters in Los Angeles gather to show their response to the Zimmerman trial on Saturday night as demonstrations spread across the country
In Oakland, California, long a hotbed of racial tension, some protestors turned violent – vandalizing police cars, breaking windows and setting fire to garbage cans.
One photo from the protests in the city shows men dousing a flag in lighter fluid and setting it alight.
More demonstrations are planned today under the banner of ‘Justice 4 Trayvon.’ At least three separate protests are scheduled for New York City alone – one in lower Manhattan, one in Harlem an a third in Brooklyn.
The Oakland demonstration followed a raucous but largely peaceful rally in San Francisco.
Prayers: Tammy Haynes, left, Whitney Tillman, center, and Crystal Haynes wear Trayvon Martin hoodies and T-shirts during a sermon at the St Paul Missionary Baptist Church in Sanford on Sunday
Emotional day: Nysha King, 16, wipes away tears during sermon at a youth service at a baptist church in Florida on Sunday
Emotional reactionsL A woman holding a child reacts to the verdict outside Seminole County Court where George Zimmerman was found not guilty
Police said officers escorted demonstrators as they marched on the city’s Mission District. The group was dispersed by 10pm.
The verdict also sparked protests in Los Angeles, where demonstrators gathered in Leimert Park, the city’s historically black neighborhood. Police were put on tactical alert, but there were no reports of any arrests.
More than 40 people gathered at Sacramento City Hall, and the Sacramento Bee reported that protesters chanted: ‘What do we want? Justice. When do you we want it? Now. For who? Trayvon.’
Violence: A BART police vehicle is vandalized during a protest after George Zimmerman was found not guilty
Damage done: A window is smashed at the Sears store on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland, California following the verdict from the five-week trial
Challenging the system: Protesters hold an image of Trayvon Martin while marching in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles, California
Trouble: A protester falls while others run as Los Angeles Police officers try to remove them from the intersection on Saturday
Despair: Supporters of Trayvon Martin say the verdict is a slap in the face for the American people
A banner behind speakers read: ‘No justice, no peace!’
The verdict on the case that has bitterly divided the nation, after the jury took more than 16 hours and 20 minutes over two days to reach their conclusion.
They unanimously decided the neighborhood watch volunteer and would-be cop justifiably killed the unarmed teen because he believed his life was threatened on that February night in Florida last year.
As the judge announced that Zimmerman had no other business with the Seminole court just after 10pm on Saturday, his mother, who was sat in the court, beamed a smile for the first time during the trial and his emotional wife broke down in tears.
Victim: Zimmerman was accused of murdering the unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin after following him with a gun last year
Relief: George Zimmerman breaks into a smile of relief a few moments after being cleared of all charges
Zimmerman jubilantly embraced both – realizing that after a year and a half of living as a hermit and virtual recluse – he was now a free man.
Trayvon’s parents, Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton, were not in court to hear the verdict. They later took to Twitter to acknowledge their deep disappointment at the verdict.
tweet from his father read: ‘God blessed Me & Sybrina with Tray and even in his death I know my baby proud of the FIGHT we along with all of you put up for him GOD BLESS.’
As the long-awaited verdict drew near, police and city leaders in the Orlando suburb of Sanford and other parts of the U.S. nervously said they were taking precautions against the possibility of mass protests or unrest.
Outrage: A man screams during a demonstration in downtown Manhattan after the news that George Zimmerman was found not guilty in the 2012 shooting death of Martin
Workers board up windows at Flora restaurant in downtown Oakland, California early on Sunday following eruptions of violence
Public feeling: Crowds gather in Union Square, New York, to wait for the verdict in the trial
Shock: A Florida woman cries as she hears the not guilty verdict verdict outside the court house
On guard: Los Angeles police gather at the edge of a rally that began as Zimmerman was cleared of all charges
‘There is no party in this case who wants to see any violence,’ Seminole County Sheriff Don Eslinger said immediately after jurors began deliberating.
‘We have an expectation upon this announcement that our community will continue to act peacefully.’
Angry crowds outside the courthouse spoke about their outrage at the verdict, yelling: ‘The system has failed us’, and tens of thousands took to Twitter to voice their discontent with the justice system and jury.
Protesters were expected to take to the streets again on Sunday after largely peaceful demonstrations.
Rallies were planned in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego and San Francisco, a day after Zimmerman was cleared of all charges in the February 2012 death of Martin.
The gatherings on Saturday night ranged from a few dozen to a couple hundred people. In Oakland, protesters broke windows at the Oakland Tribune and started small fires in the streets.
Local media reports said some Oakland marchers vandalized a police squad car and police formed a line to block the protesters’ path.
Footage from a television helicopter showed people spray painting anti-police graffiti. Protesters also burned an American and a California state flag and spray painted Alameda County’s Davidson courthouse.
In New York, people came on to the streets around midnight to protest, waving candles and signs. One showed a picture of Emmett Till – a black teenager who was tortured and beaten to death by white men in Mississippi in 1955.
Relief: George Zimmerman’s wife, Shellie, celebrates with family and friends following her husband’s not guilty verdict
Emotional scenes: Zimmerman’s family and legal team celebrate after the verdict was read out
WATCH VIDEO HERE:
Despite calls for calm from Trayvon’s parents and legal officials moments after the verdict was read out, people unleashed their fury on Twitter and described Zimmerman as ‘a dead man walking’.
Celebrities weighed in on the outcome. Beyoncé called for a moment of silence at her concert in Tennessee after the verdict was read and sang the chorus of Dolly Parton’s I Will Always Love You.
Music producer Russell Simmons wrote on Twitter that ‘we must remain peaceful. No matter what, remain peaceful’.
Simmons then posted a blog entry that said he’d be supporting the Trayvon Martin Foundation in helping to repeal laws like Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. He signed off, ‘God bless you little brother. Rest in peace.’
WATCH VIDEO HERE:
Relief: George Zimmerman’s family celebrate as the jury clear him of all charges
Grief: Trayvon’s parents Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin were not in court for the verdict
Zimmerman’s legal team said the verdict had not sunk in for him yet, and that Zimmerman was worried about the reaction from the nation and for his future.
Defense attorney Mark O’Mara said that Zimmerman and his wife, Shellie, had been living ‘like a hermit’ and were not working because they feared for their safety.
Zimmerman is said to be in hiding and wears a bullet proof vest when outside, according to the New York Times.
Defense attorney Mark O Mara said: ‘[Zimmerman] has to be cautious and protective of his safety because there is a fringe element who have said on Twitter and elsewhere they want revenge.’
He added that after everyone left the room at the end of the trial, Zimmerman thanked his defense teams and then became very emotional as he realized the trial was done.
‘I’m not sure how you can feel after 16 months of trauma. It’s probably going to settle on him tonight when he is with his family and realizes he doesn’t have to come back to court,’ Mr O Mara said.
Robert Zimmerman Jr. said his brother was ‘going to be looking around his shoulder for the rest of his life’.
‘Now the jury has spoken, and we are exonerated as a family,’ he told CNN. ‘And more importantly, George is exonerated.’
Benjamin Crump, the attorney for the Martin family, acknowledged the disappointment of Trayvon’s supporters, as he ranked the teenager alongside civil rights heroes Medgar Evers and Emmett Till in the history of the fight for equal justice.
Despite this racially charged language he urged them not to resort to violence. ‘For Trayvon to rest in peace, we must all be peaceful,’ he said.
It took the jury five weeks to see more than 200 pieces of evidence and hear 56 witnesses in a trial that has gripped the nation, the jury heard two very different accounts of what happened on that fateful rainy night of February 26, 2012.
After the verdict, prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda said he was disappointed but respected the jury’s decision.
‘We respect the verdict but I’m disappointed. This is only the second murder case I lost. I thought he was guilty,’ he told a press conference.
Emotional: Trayvon’s parents Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton on day 20 of the trial into their son’s shooting
Pressure: George Zimmerman wipes perspiration from his face after arriving in the courtroom for his trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford, Florida July 12, 2013
Tense: Assistant state attorney John Guy, left, responds to defense attorney Don West, right, after another angry exchange of words over evidence
Opposite sides: Defense counsel Mark O’Mara, left, talks to prosecutor Bernie de la Rionda, right. Both men gave the closing arguments in Zimmerman’s trial
Florida State Attorney Angela Corey added that they had wanted to ‘get all the facts before the jury because we felt everyone had the right to know everything’.
‘To the living we owe respect, to the dead the truth. We believe we have brought out the truth.’
She added: ‘This case has never been about race or the right to bear arms. But there is no doubt Trayvon was profiled to be a criminal.’
Ms Corey added after the verdict that she believed second-degree murder was the appropriate charge because Zimmerman’s mindset ‘fit the bill of second-degree murder’.
‘We charged what we believed we could prove,’ Ms Corey said.
Ultimately, it was the defense team who won. They praised the jury, who Mr O Mara said ‘listened, took notes [and were] as engaged as everyone in the process’.
‘We are ecstatic with the results. George Zimmerman was not guilty of anything except protecting himself in self defense,’ he added after the verdict.
He said that they would seek immunity if someone decided to try to sue Zimmerman.
Joy: Gladys Zimmerman, centre, smiles broadly as she learns that her son has been acquitted
Don West, who was criticized for his opening Knock Knock joke and photos of him on Twitter eating ice cream with his daughters during a break early on in the trial said he would not respond to his critics or talk about the alleged threats made against his family.
‘This trial is about George ZImmerman, not about ice creams,’ he said. ‘I still think the joke was funny but I wish I’d told it better.’
A Timeline of the Case that Divided America: The Trial of George Zimmerman for the Murder of Trayvon Martin
February 26th, 2012 – George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain in Sanford, Florida, calls 911 to make a report of ‘a suspicious person’.
He is told by officers not to leave his vehicle but disregards this. Moments later residents report hearing a gunshot and police arrive to find Trayvon Martin dead.
Zimmerman tells police that he shot Martin in self-defense – is not arrested – and this noted in the police report.
February 27th, 2012 – Trayvon Martin’s father, Tracy Martin, files a missing persons report when his son fails to return home.
Officers with the Sanford Police Department go to the Martin household and inform Tracy that his son is believed dead – Martin identifies Trayvon Martin’s body.
March 8th, 2012 – Police investigators receive a fax from the Altamonte Family Pratice that contains medical records identifying George Zimmerman’s injuries sustained on the evening of the shooting.
They acknowledge a scalp wound, a nasal wound and describe ‘assault by other means’.
March 12th, 2012 – Sanford Police Chieg Bill Lee explains that Zimmerman has not been charged because to date no evidence has been provided to prove his claims contrary.
March 13th, 2012 – Sanford Police Department’s homicide detective Christopher Serino says that he recommends that Zimmerman be charged with manslaughter. He says that Zimmerman ‘failed to identify himself’ as a neighborhood watch member on two occasions that night.
He says he believed Zimmerman’s injuries to be ‘marginally consistent with a life-threatening episode, as described by him, during which neither a deadly weapon nor deadly force were deployed by Trayvon Martin.’
March 14th, 2012 – The case is turned over to Florida State Attorney Norm Wilfinger
March 15th, 2012 – George Zimmerman’s fahter, Robert Zimmerman, writes a letter to the Orlando Sentinel in which he explains that his son is Hispanic and is being erroneously portrayed as a racist.
March 19th, 2012 – The Justice Department and the FBI announce they have launched an investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin
March 22nd, 2012 – A petition calling for the arrest of Zimmerman, created by Trayvon Martin’s parents, garners more than 1.3 million online signatures.
March 22nd, 2012 – Sanford Police Chief Bill Lee says he is to stand down ‘temporarily’ as head of the department.
March 23rd, 2012 – President Barack Obama makes a public announcement on the death to say that the incident requires ‘soul searching’
March 24th, 2012 – Some members of the New Black Panther Party, offer a $10,000 reward for the ‘capture’ of George Zimmerman
March 28th, 2012 – Zimmerman’s father appears on television to say that his son was forced to shoot Martin after being badly beaten by the teen
April 11th, 2012 – Zimmerman is charged with second-degree murder and his new lawyer, Mark O’Mara announces that Zimmerman has handed himself over to the authorities
April 20th, 2012 – During his bond hearing, Zimmerman apologizes to Trayvon Martin’s family for the loss of their son and his bail is set at $150,000
June 1st, 2012 – Judge Kenneth Lester Jr. orders Zimmerman to surrender after his bail is revoked after the prosecution shows that Zimmerman and his wife Shellie misrepresented their finances when the bond was originally set in April
June 3rd, 2012 – George Zimmerman is taken into custody at the John E. Polk Correctional Facility in Seminole County
June 12, 2012 – George Zimmerman’s wife Shellie is arrested and charged with perjury
July 5th, 2012 – Zimmerman’s bond is set at $1 million and the next day he is released after posting 10 percent of the bond
July 18th, 2012 – George Zimmerman appears on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program to deny any wrong doing
March 18th, 2013 – Mark O’Mara opts not to seek a pretrial Stand your Ground immunity hearing for George Zimmerman
April 30th, 2013 – Zimmerman decides to waive his right to a Stand your Ground hearing and opts to go for a self-defense trial
June 20th, 2013 – An all-female jury is selected
June 24th, 2013 – The trial begins
July 11th and 12th – The State and Defense give their closing arguments
July 13th – A not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman is announced
Mr O Mara said: ‘Nothing can bring back Trayvon Martin. Whenever a young life is lost it is a tragedy’ adding that he extended his sympathy to the teenager’s family.
He added however: ‘None of [the evidence] shows George Zimmerman as an aggressor.’
The prosecution had started the case with a powerful and graphic opening statement and it was in this vein they proceeded with their case.
Footage: CCTV footage shows Trayvon buying Skittles and a soda at a 7/11
Evidence: A shirt worn by Zimmerman on the night of the shooting was used as evidence in the trial
Injuries: Photos of cuts to the back of Zimmerman’s head and his face were included in the evidence
Fatal mark: A bullet hole can be seen in the front of the hooded top Trayvon was wearing on the night he died
Crime scene: Trayvon was shot outside with Florida complex
Zimmerman wasn’t arrested for 44 days after the February 26, 2012, shooting as police in Sanford insisted that Florida’s Stand Your Ground law on self-defense prohibited them from bringing charges. Florida gives people wide latitude to use deadly force if they fear death or bodily harm.
Trayvon’s parents, along with civil rights leaders such as the Rev Jesse Jackson and Rev Al Sharpton, argued that Zimmerman, whose father is white and whose mother is Hispanic, had racially profiled their son.
They also accused investigators of dragging their feet because Trayvon was a black teenager.
Before a special prosecutor assigned to the case ordered Zimmerman’s arrest, thousands of protesters gathered in Sanford, Miami, New York and elsewhere. President Obama also added to the case, saying that if he had a son, ‘he’d look like Trayvon’.
The Rev Al Sharpton continued to campaign after the verdict, saying: ‘The acquittal of George Zimmerman is a slap in the face to the American people but it is only the first round in the pursuit of justice.’
According to AP, he added: ‘We intend to ask the Department of Justice to move forward as they did in the Rodney King case and we will closely monitor the civil case against Mr. Zimmerman. I will convene an emergency call with preachers tonight to discuss next steps and I intend to head to Florida in the next few days.’
Ruling: Judge Debra Nelson hands the verdict to the court clerk
Reenactment: The jury had been shown a video of Zimmerman explaining his version of events
The race element could become the legacy of the trial. Atlanta mayor Kasim Reed responded to the verdict by saying: ‘The death of Trayvon Martin shows that we must all work harder to shed the dangerous stereotypes that can have devastating consequences for individuals, families and our society.’
Celebrities from Will.i.am to Miley Cyrus also took to Twitter to announce their shock at the verdict.
Will.i.am tweeted: ‘What’s wrong with the world mama!!! #whereIStheLOVE #zimmermanVSamerica.’
Sophia Bush added: ‘The wind is more than knocked out of me… My heart aches for this boy’s family. Justice System? I don’t think so,’ and Miley Cyrus tweeted to say the verdict made her ‘feel sick’.
Others, including Wyclef Jean and Mandy Moore extended their sympathies to Trayvon’s family and friends.
A tweet from Jesse Williams however, read: ‘Verdict emblematic of a culture rooted in bloodthirsty cowardice.’
Words, they said, that proved Zimmerman acted with ill will, spite and hatred when he followed Trayvon as he was walking home from a 7/11 and, after a scuffle, shot him through the heart.
They portrayed Zimmerman as a ‘vigilante’, a ‘wannabe cop’, a man filled with hatred and frustration after a spate of burglaries in the community he felt he was responsible for protecting.
On Friday, the prosecution appealed to the emotions and the hearts of the all-women jury and in a powerful rebuttal, John Guy said: ‘Trayvon Martin was a son, a brother and a friend and the last thing he did on this Earth was to try to get home.
‘George Zimmerman didn’t shoot the teen because he had to, he shot him because he wanted to,’ repeating words he used in his opening statement.
Evidence: Gladys Zimmerman said the screams on the 911 call belonged to her son George
Mother: Sybrina Fulton took to the stand earlier when she unequivocally stated after hearing the 911 call from February 26: ‘I heard my son screaming’
In contrast, the defense took a more methodical, conversational and almost calm approach in their delivery. Mr West included his ‘Knock Knock’ joke in his opening statement, though it failed to have the desired effect.
They called only 18 witnesses to the state’s 38 and dedicated a lot of time trying to hammer home to the jury that Zimmerman feared for his life and was merely defending himself from a vicious MMA-style beating at the hands of Trayvon.
Mr O’Mara pointed out again and again in his closing argument the state did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that murder in the second-degree occurred.
‘Pure and unadulterated innocence’, he said. ‘In fact, George Zimmerman committed no crime at all.
‘My client is not guilty of anything but protecting his own life,’ he told the jury.
Reaction: Some people took to Twitter to show their disapproval of the verdict
Central to the case and played numerous times by both legal teams over the last three weeks was the 911 call from a resident of the Retreat at Twin Lakes community.
Terrified and piercing screams for help can be heard in the background before a shot rings out, silencing them instantly.
The prosecution’s last witness was Sybrina Fulton, a mother who lost her only son. She took the stand and said unequivocally the cries for help belonged to her son.
On the same day, the defense called their first witness Gladys Zimmerman, and she – just like Sybrina – told the court it was her son George calling for help.
Convincing jurors about whose voice is screaming for help on 911 calls that captured audio of the fight was the primary goal of prosecutors and defense attorneys.
Martin’s mother, father and brother testified it’s the Miami teen screaming for help on recordings of the 911 calls made by Zimmerman’s neighbors.
Zimmerman’s mother, uncle, father and five friends told jurors it was the neighborhood watch volunteer’s voice. One of Zimmerman’s neighbors, Jayne Surdyka, says the screams were those of a boy.
Next up was Zimmerman’s uncle, retired sheriff Jorge Meza, who acted as a powerful witness to the defense, revealing he was not played the 911 call but only heard it on TV and knew instinctively who it was.
‘That voice just came and hit me. Not only did I hear the scream but I felt it. I know it was my Georgie, I felt it,’ he said while fighting back tears.
The defense also called witness after witness – neighbors, colleagues and friends of Zimmerman – who also unwaveringly testified that it was the neighborhood watch volunteer shouting for help.
Hostile: Witness Rachel Jeantel, right, continues her testimony to defense attorney Don West on day four of George Zimmerman’s trial in Seminole circuit court in Sanford
Another point of contention was – who attacked who at the gated community? Who was the aggressor and who was the victim? Whose life was in danger that night? Who was on Top?
Zimmerman was wearing a red jacket, and Martin had on a dark hoodie.
Zimmerman’s former neighbor Jonathan Good, perhaps the witness with the best view of what happened, says he saw a person in dark clothing straddling someone in red or white clothing and making downward movements with his fists in a mixed-martial arts maneuver known as ‘ground and pound.’ Neighbors Selma Mora and Surdyka say the person on top got up after the shooting.
Zimmerman’s attorneys say Zimmerman had been on the bottom but got on top of Martin after he fired his gun.
The state said Zimmerman had been training at an MMA gym three times a week over the past year.
Zimmerman told investigators that Martin was on top of him, pounding his head into the pavement. After he fired his gun, he says, he got on top of Martin and spread his arms.
However, a photo taken moments later by Zimmerman’s neighbor shows Martin’s arms under his body.
Defense expert Vincent DiMaio testified Martin could have moved his arms in the 10 to 15 seconds he would have been conscious after being shot in the heart.
Defence witness: Dr Vincent di Maio, a forensic pathologist and gunshot wound expert, describes George Zimmerman’s injuries which he said were consistent with his head being banged against concrete
Rachel Jeantel, Trayvon’s friend, who was on the phone to the teen right before he was shot, told the court her friend was frightened because a man was following him. She told him to go home.
The last thing she heard Trayvon say was: ‘Why are you following me?’ before the phone went dead. She also claimed it was Zimmerman who approached Trayvon saying, ‘What are you doing around here?’
The defense highlighted the physical differences between the 17-year-old and the then 28-year-old. That at around 6ft, Trayvon towered over Zimmerman, who was 5ft 8in and considered to be ‘soft’ and borderline obese at 200lb.
They said Travyon was not a scared young boy who feared for his life, but a strapping young man who pounced on Zimmerman and started beating him.
Possibly one of the best witnesses to take the stand in the whole trial was a forensic pathologist who was an expert in gunshot wounds.
Dr Vincent di Maio told the jury that the way the powder marks were formed around the bullet wound showed the gun would have been two-to-four inches away from the teenager’s body when the shot was fired, indicating he was leaning forward at the time.
‘The physical evidence is consistent with George Zimmerman’s account that Mr Martin was over him,’ he said.
Under cross examination from Bernie de la Rionda, Tracy Martin said of the recording: ‘I was listening to my son’s last cry for help. I was listening to his life being ended by somebody else’
He later testified that Zimmerman’s head injuries could have been caused by coming into contact with concrete, even if there were no serious injuries to show this.
Zimmerman has argued all along he acted in self-defense, although he passed up chance for a self-defense ‘stand your ground’ hearing in which a judge could have thrown out the case without it going to a jury if the judge was convinced there was enough evidence to support it.
Zimmerman’s community college instructor, Alexis Francisco Carter, told jurors that a person can claim self-defense if they have a reasonable fear of death or great bodily harm.
In their jury instructions, jurors were told self-defense is justified in using deadly force if Zimmerman reasonably believed that such force was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself.
To get a second-degree murder conviction, prosecutors needed to show that Zimmerman acted with ill will, hatred, spite or evil intent.
Prosecutors argued that profanities Zimmerman uttered under his breath while he watched Martin walk through his neighborhood were evidence of ill will and hatred.
But when asked by prosecutors and defense attorneys, no witness said Zimmerman acted with these traits.
The judge presiding over the case also allowed jurors to consider the lesser charge of manslaughter.
To get a manslaughter conviction, prosecutors were required to show that Zimmerman killed without lawful justification.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362973/Protests-erupt-coast-coast-George-Zimmerman-goes-FREE-Second-day-demonstrations-planned-night-anger.html#ixzz2Z2kR2T7U
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook