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News Wrap: Police Make Arrests at Zimmerman Verdict Protests in California

July 16, 2013 at 12:00 AM EST
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KWAME HOLMAN: Negative reaction to a Florida jury’s finding that George Zimmerman broke no law when he shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin continued today.

There were more rallies around the country.

PROTESTERS: No justice, no peace! No justice, no peace!

KWAME HOLMAN: For a second day and neither there were protests against the verdict. Most were peaceful. In Washington, crowds rallied outside the White House against the acquittal of Zimmerman. And in Houston activists staged a mock funeral in the streets. But as night fell demonstrations in California turned violent.

Protesters in Oakland blocked major roadways and attacked bystanders. Police made nine arrests and used flash grenades to disperse crowds. And in Los Angeles there were 13 arrests after some demonstrators broke away from a prayer rally and smashed windows.

L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck:

CHARLIE BECK, Los Angeles, Calif., police chief: We want to let people speak up in a lawful and a peaceful way to honor the ideas of which they wish to protest. But we cannot allow that activity to infringe on the property rights and the physical safety of the residents of this community.

KWAME HOLMAN: Meanwhile, one of the six jurors who returned the not guilty verdict told CNN’s Anderson Cooper the panel was split at first and getting to a decision was painful.

WOMAN: I want people to know that we put everything into everything to get this verdict. We didn’t just go in there and say, we’re going to come in here and just do guilty/not guilty. We thought about it for hours and cried over it afterwards.

KWAME HOLMAN: In the end, the juror known only as B-37 says she believes Zimmerman did fear for his life, but that he should have stayed in his car and that Trayvon Martin should have kept walking.

WOMAN: I think both were responsible for the situation they had gotten themselves into. I think both of them could have walked away. It just didn’t happen.

KWAME HOLMAN: For his part, George Zimmerman remained out of sight today but new demonstrations began in Houston and elsewhere.

This afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder charged that stand your ground laws in Florida and elsewhere encourage violent situations to escalate. He addressed the NAACP convention in Orlando.

ATTORNEY GENERAL ERIC HOLDER: There has always been a legal defense for using deadly force, if — and the if is important — if no safe retreat is available.

But we must examine laws that take this further by eliminating the commonsense and age-old requirement that people who feel threatened have a duty to retreat, outside their home, if they can do so safely.

KWAME HOLMAN: Holder gave no indication when the Justice Department will decide whether it will charge George Zimmerman with any federal civil rights violations.

The man who leaked information on U.S. surveillance programs, Edward Snowden, formally asked today for temporary asylum in Russia. He’s been in the Moscow airport’s transit zone for the last three weeks. If he’s granted asylum, Snowden could work and travel in Russia for at least a year.

A North Korean-flagged ship is being held in Panama after authorities there apparently found ballistic missile equipment. The ship had sailed from Cuba on its way to the Pacific via the Panama Canal. President Ricardo Martinelli says his government originally was tipped off that the vessel carried drugs, hidden beneath bags of sugar. Instead, they found weapons.

PRESIDENT RICARDO MARTINELLI, Panama (through translator): It’s extremely sophisticated. It appears that these are aerial or defense missiles. We don’t know what’s in the other containers but we will have to take out all the sugar to determine what’s in this ship.

KWAME HOLMAN: Martinelli said the ship’s North Korean crew 35 in all resisted efforts to divert the vessel into port. They were taken into custody.

On Wall Street today, investors turned cautious a day before the chairman of the Federal Reserve gives his latest report on the economy. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 32 points to close below 15,452. The Nasdaq fell nearly nine points to close at 3,598.

Those are some of the day’s major stories.