NEW YORK — From New York to California, outrage over the verdict in George Zimmerman’s murder trial poured from street demonstrations and church pulpits Sunday as protesters spoke out against his acquittal and demanded federal charges on civil rights violations.
Protests were planned later Sunday in Boston, Detroit, Baltimore, San Francisco and other cities over the Florida case, which unleashed a national debate over racial profiling, self-defense and equal justice. At least one protest in California hours after the verdict late Saturday ended with vandalism.
In Manhattan, congregants at Middle Collegiate Church were encouraged to wear hooded sweatshirts in the memory of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed black teenager 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, she added, “we’re going to raise our voices against the root causes of this kind of tragedy.”
Congregant Jessica Nacinovich, wearing a hoodie, said “I can’t help but want to express disappointment and sadness in response to the decision, and I just wanted to come and be here with everybody in solidarity and talk and pray and sing about where we go from here.”
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 the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.
Hours after the verdict, demonstrators gathered on U Street in Washington, D.C., chanting, “No justice, no peace.” One protester carried a sign that read, “Stop criminalizing black men.”
In Florida, about 200 demonstrators marched through downtown Tallahassee carrying signs that said “Racism is Not Dead” and “Who’s Next?”