Shortly after George Zimmerman was found not guilty late Saturday of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the self-defense shooting death of Trayvon Martin, unrest hit the city of Oakland as race-mongers like Al Sharpton, the NAACP and even some Democrat members of Congress publicly demanded that the Obama administration pursue federal “civil rights” charges instead. So far, the verdict has elicited outrage and sadness from Martin supporters, while those who believed Zimmerman acted in self-defense reacted with a mixture of relief and anxiety about what comes next.
The outcome was hardly a surprise to anyone following the trial closely. Legal experts and analysts had long been predicting that Zimmerman would walk — especially after many of the witnesses called by prosecutors ended up benefiting the defense. Even testimony by the state’s “star witness,” 19-year-old Rachel Jeantel, ended up backfiring as virtually every legal analyst said she helped bolster Zimmerman’s version of the story. Witnesses and evidence presented by the defense likely put the final nails in the coffin for the prosecution’s half-baked case.
"Your bond will be released," said Judge Debra Nelson after the all-female six-member jury announced its verdict in the case. "Your GPS monitor will be cut off, when you exit the courtroom over here. You have no further business with the court." Glancing at his attorney, Zimmerman cracked a small smile before looking back toward the judge. His family was deeply relieved, too.
After the verdict was announced, however, marchers reportedly hit the streets across Florida and nationwide. Protests on Saturday night were reported in Sanford, where Martin was killed, as well as several major cities including Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and more. News reports indicate that most of the rallies and protests, a few of which went into Sunday morning, had been largely peaceful despite warnings, threats of rioting and mayhem, and government preparations for riots in some urban areas.
However, in Oakland, California, multiple media outlets reported some violence as hooligans smashed windows, vandalized police cars, burned American flags, and set dumpsters ablaze while shouting pro-Martin slogans. One smashed squad car, shown in press pictures and spread far and wide through social media, can be seen spray painted with the words “kill pigs.” (Referring to police as swine is a tactic commonly used by critics of law enforcement to disparage police). Protests are scheduled for Sunday as well, with some analysts expecting further disorder.
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Photo of New Black Panther Party member shouting slogans outside Seminole County Courthouse after verdict was announced: AP Images