BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Outrage after George Zimmerman–the man who killed unarmed Florida teenager Trayvon Martin–is acquitted on all charges.
Rallies are scheduled all across the country, including right here in Baltimore City.
Rochelle Ritchie was at McKeldin Square, where a large crowd gathered in protest.
Many are still in shock at the acquittal of George Zimmerman, and they hope their demands are heard at the Department of Justice.
The acquittal of George Zimmerman has caused outrage and heated debates on the streets of Baltimore.
Dozens of people filled McKeldin Square and lined Pratt Street to voice their disgust and demand for justice, saying Zimmerman got off with not even a slap on the wrist.
“We know that injustice happened, and that somebody should be paying for it,” said Rodney Kennedy.
Some people say, while they don’t agree with the verdict, it has to be respected.
“All I am saying–when O.J. got acquitted, I don’t know whether he was guilty or not, I thought he was guilty but he was acquitted,” said Tim Boynkin. “I didn’t have any problems about that. It wasn’t a black or white thing. It was because the prosecution didn’t put the case on correctly.”
Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by George Zimmerman in Sanford, Florida last year. Zimmerman claimed self-defense. Others cried murder.
“Whether this situation escalated into a fist fight, it shouldn’t have even went this far because a human life was taken in the process,” said Devin Nicholson.
Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts, checking out the protest, called for calm after the verdict was read.
“I think it’s very important you get that pressure out. You allow people to talk, you allow them to share with other people,” said Batts.
While race was often denied by Zimmerman as a reason for profiling Trayvon, protesters say skin color played a factor in his acquittal.
“If the roles were reversed and Trayvon was white and George Zimmerman was black, then he would be locked up, convicted and thrown under the jail,” said Steven Ceci.
The Department of Justice has said in a statement that the FBI continues evaluating evidence gathered in the criminal investigation as well as testimony from the trial.
Prosecutors will now determine whether any civil rights laws were violated.
Calls for calm are coming from the Martin family and all over the country.
Meghan McCorkell spoke with local religious leaders on how to react.
Police in Baltimore City had a late night news conference in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict. We should note in the hours after the verdict, there were no known incidents or reaction in the city, but police say they have been prepared for the verdict. They will have extra officers on the street throughout the week.
The commissioner was calling for peace throughout the city; he was joined by community and faith leaders who say this will be a subject discussed in churches throughout the city Sunday and throughout the week. They are also calling for peace.
“This is not what so many persons expected but this reminds us there are senseless murders and deaths taking place every day. The response is not more violence but the response is that we have to come together and find creative solutions to the problems that are dogging our communities and dogging our families,” said Bishop Walter Thomas.
“One of the lessons we can learn from the parents of Trayvon Martin is, at the very outset upon the killing of their son, they say, `We’re going to trust the judicial system. We’re not going to riot; we’re not going to take it to the streets. Whatever the court says, that’s what we will follow.’ I think we ought to follow the lead of the parents of Trayvon Martin to trust the judicial system, whether we agree with it or not,” said Pastor Jamal Bryant. “We are submitted to the law; let’s operate with law and order.”
Protesters gathered at 9 a.m. Sunday for a peaceful demonstration and press conference.
There will be a similar protest at McKeldin Square Monday at 5 p.m.