July 14 — When news of the “not guilty” jury verdict for George Zimmerman in the shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin came down around 10 p.m. Eastern time the night of July 13, shock, rage and action spread quickly among justice-loving and anti-racist people across the United States. Despite the assertion of President Barack Obama in a statement that “we are a nation of laws and a jury has spoken” and appeals from him and other leaders for “calm,” righteous anger and plans for protest actions spread quickly around the country.
People gathered and protests broke out the night of the verdict in Los Angeles and Oakland, Calif., and Chicago, according to news reports, as well as in Sanford, Fla., the site of the trial and the city where young Martin was gunned down and killed by Zimmerman on Feb. 26, 2012. About 50 people spontaneously came out at midnight in Philadelphia in response to the racist verdict, said Workers World reporter Joe Piette.
The “Peoples Power Assemblies” Facebook page last night and today received posts from across the U.S. about demonstrations occurring July 14. Included were Washington, D.C.; Cincinnati; Brooklyn, Buffalo, Syracuse and Harlem, N.Y.; Providence, R.I.; Los Angeles; Denver; Rockford, Ill.; Erie, Pa.; Madison, Wis.; Miami and Tallahassee, Fla.; and many other cities.
In Philadelphia, thousands, overwhelmingly young people, rallied at Love Park and marched through Center City to the Federal Building and then marched back to Love Park, according to WW contributing editor, Betsey Piette.
More than 2,000 protested at Union Square in New York City, reported People’s Power Assembly movement organizer Larry Hales. PPA organizer Sharon Black in Baltimore said 400 gathered at City Hall there for many hours. Dave Sole, of the Michigan Emergency Committee Against War & Injustice, reported 500 people rallied in downtown Detroit at Grand Circus Park and then marched to the Federal Building. Dante Strobino said more than 350 people came to a rally in Durham, N.C., organized by the Coalition for Liberty and Justice for Carlos Riley Jr., Durham Solidarity Center and Workers World Party. Other protests took place in Houston, Rochester, N.Y., Northampton and Boston, Mass.,Newark, N.J., and other cities.
Demanding justice for Trayvon, 300 people of different nationalities marched in the streets of Milwaukee, according to WW correspondent Tommy Cavanaugh. The action began at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue and marched downtown, with youth taking over various intersections and drawing in passersby.
John Catalinotto, Workers World managing editor, was in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley, where a multinational crowd gathered in Malcolm X Park to protest the “outrageous verdict.” Veteran civil rights activists, church leaders, local progressive politicians, and high school and Vassar College students addressed the rally. Longtime fighter Mae Parker-Harris told the crowd, “The police have been killing young Black men and getting away with it, and now racist civilians are too.”
More demonstrations and actions are being organized across the U.S. for July 15 and throughout the coming week.