Updated: Zimmerman Verdict Sparks Protests in Cities Across the Nation

BY News Desk  July 14, 2013 at 11:07 PM EDT

Protesters march across Washington, D.C. on U Street. Photo by Allie Morris/PBS NewsHour

Updated 11:41 p.m., Saturday

Protesters staged rallies and marches in cities across the country on Sunday mobilized by a not gulty verdict reached by a jury late Saturday night in the trial of George Zimmerman.

In Washington D.C., hundreds of demonstrators varying in age and race gathered at Malcolm X Park in the Northwest part of the city to protest against the verdict. After gathering, the group marched to Howard University to join a separate rally. Chanting “no peace, no justice” and “we won’t forget, Trayvon” the protesters marched down U Street, a main D.C. thoroughfare, taking up two lanes of the four way street. Police cars blocked traffic.

Attendees of the rally voiced different reasons for joining.

“This is a wake up call for everybody. It’s not even a race thing at this point, it’s about civil rights for everyone,’ said Amanda Seabron, a D.C. resident who brought her 3 year-old daughter to the protest, just as her mother brought her to rallies when she was little, she said. It was motherhood, she explained, that made it important for her to attend. “I’m looking at it as, what if it was my daughter? What if she was wearing the hoodie, coming back from the store?”

D.C. resident Chris Nalls said race is a factor. As he was marching down U street, he said he noticed different reactions from people who were sitting in stopped cars. He said some people were cheering and supportive, others were smirking “as if to say that’s a wasted effort” and others were “downright disgusted.” He said the varying reactions were representative of a bigger picture. “That is a microcosm of what the underlying problem is, racial division–deep rooted racial division in this country.”

Lakshmi Sridaran, lives in D.C. and for her it was important to attend the rally to show her disapointment in the trial verdict. She said it felt good to march with others, but also bittersweet. “We were marching for this 10 years ago when we were college students, and the people before us were marching on the streets during the civil rights movement, and people before that after reconstruction,” Sridaran said. “So it’s a really sad feeling to feel like we’re marching for the same thing every single time. But it felt good to be out here with people on the streets.”

In New York City, large crowds gathered to march for Trayvon Martin.

Travyon Protester at Union Square:

By late Sunday night, protesters made their way to Times Square.

In Los Angeles, protesters marched onto 10 Freeway, effectively shutting one side down.

One driver caught a video of protesters walking down one side of an empty freeway.
In Boston, protesters gathered in Dudley Square.

Protests were also planned in other major cities, including Detroit, Baltimore and Seattle.


Posted 1 p.m., Sunday:

Protesters gathered in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, D.C. on Saturday night to protest the verdict in the Florida trial of George Zimmerman. Photo by Allie Morris/PBS NewsHour

Within minutes of a jury delivering a not-guilty verdict for George Zimmerman, protesters took to the internet and in some cities, the streets.

There were largely peaceful demonstrations and rallies in several cities in California and Florida–as well as in New York City, Chicago, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. In Oakland, about 100 protesters broke windows, started fires and vandalized a police car. But elsewhere, the demonstrations were civil as of early Sunday afternoon.

In Washington, protesters rallied late Saturday night, marching for over an hour before gathering in a Northwest D.C. neighborhood to speak out against the verdict. By 1 a.m. more than 100 people surrounded a handful of speakers, who stood on a bench above the crowd and expressed their frustration through a bullhorn.

“He killed him for nothing,” said one protester named Taylor, who stood in the crowd and declined to give her last name. “I just think racism is coming back and it needs to be dealt with.”

Michelle, a protester in attendance who also declined to give her last name, said no matter the race of Zimmerman or Martin, the justice system didn’t work in this case. “It doesn’t matter if he was black, white, gray, yellow,” Michelle said. “I don’t care what color Trayvon Martin is. Even if Zimmerman was black, it doesn’t matter. [Trayvon Martin] still shouldn’t have gotten killed, no matter what. Wrong is wrong, if you do the crime do the time and he should have done the time for what he did.”

Police had blocked off parts the streets surrounding the protesters, but the rally remained peaceful, according to an officer on the scene.

The Associated Press published this video of protesters gathering in Oakland, Calif. last night.

Online, hashtags like #nojustice and #ZimmermanTrial began to trend Saturday night and continue to carry comments from the public on the outcome of the trial.