LOS ANGELES — Hundreds of protesters staged boisterous but peaceful protests in Los Angeles and San Francisco late yesterday against the acquittal of a neighbourhood watch volunteer charged with murdering unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin.
Police and civic leaders appealed for calm but braced for more unrest after nearly two dozen people were arrested in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area late on Monday in a second night of protests over a case that has captivated and polarized the US public on race, gun and self-defence laws.
Protesters said they were angry at what they saw as a miscarriage of justice in the verdict reached on Saturday by Florida jurors who found George Zimmerman, the white-Hispanic man who shot Martin, not guilty of murder or manslaughter.
Public comments from one of the six jurors stoked anger further as they were widely regarded as too sympathetic toward Zimmerman, who said he acted in self-defence. He was accused of having singled out Martin as suspicious because he was black.
CNN said yesterday four other jurors released a statement distancing themselves from the juror’s comments.
About 100 demonstrators, many of them holding placards bearing Martin’s likeness, gathered in front of City Hall in downtown Los Angeles early in the evening chanting, “Your son, our son. We are all Trayvon” and “No justice, no peace.”
“This is not just a protest. It’s a movement for justice all across the country,” organiser Eugene Puryear, 27, from Washington, D.C., shouted to the crowd. “We won’t get off the streets until there’s justice for Trayvon Martin.”
Puryear told reporters the aim of the rallies in various cities was to tap into anger over the verdict and “to channel that into a mass movement to attack the root of the problem.”
“Trayvon Martin can be a symbol for a movement that says, ‘No more’ to racist violence, ‘no more’ to oppression and exploitation,” he said. (Reuters)