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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

SANFORD, Florida (AFP) – For those struggling in Sanford on Sunday to accept the acquittal of George Zimmerman over the killing of Trayvon Martin, there were combative sermons and prayers for understanding, but little immediate solace.

“I couldn’t go to sleep last night and I didn’t want to awaken this morning, to the devastating reality that hatred, prejudice and injustice pollutes the air of America,” said an emotional Pastor Valerie Houston to the strains of Gospel tunes.

“At the expense of the life of an innocent, unarmed African American teenager. America, our country, which professes that we are one nation under God, with liberty and justice for all.”

Large crowds of stone-faced worshipers gathered in Sanford, 250 miles (400 kilometers) north of Miami, the morning after the night before, when a jury found neighborhood watch volunteer Zimmerman not guilty of murder.

The long and racially-charged trial transfixed much of the United States.

Zimmerman, 29, had been accused of pursuing Martin, 17, through a gated community in Sanford, and shooting him during an altercation in February last year.

“Dr (Martin Luther) King (Jr) stated, the daily life of the Negro is still in the basement of the Great Society,” Houston said. “And today I state, the daily life of my people is still enslaved to a white supremacist society.”

Still, she insisted: “We are not at the bottom unless we continue to see ourselves there, the innocent shed blood of Jesus, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, Medgar Evers, Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin should propel us to soar to higher levels in all areas of society.”

Geraldine Burke, 88, in a red hat and black pumps, said: “Today I felt it was necessary to come to church to be united as community. It’s a sad day for us and for the country, another sad day of our sad history in our beloved country.”

Allen Chapel in Sanford’s Goldsboro neighborhood welcomed many locals to worship not far from the scene of Martin’s death. Others drove from miles away specifically to be here, in this mostly-white small city of 54.000, such was their frustration at the verdict.

“This is the worst lesson that we could have from our justice system, but we must continue to trust in our judicial system. Violence is not the answer,” insisted churchgoer Dominique Washington.

“This trial began by asking if Trayvon Martin was criminal or victim. Now it is clear to us that Zimmerman was a criminal because he followed Trayvon because he wanted to do it. Zimmerman was a criminal because he used a gun and used violence.”

Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law, however, allows armed people who feel threatened to shoot in self-defense, and such was the argument that Zimmerman’s attorneys made successfully to a six-woman jury.

AFP Photo/Scott Olson

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  • Dominick Vila

    Everything I have read or heard since the acquittal indicates that the sentiment that prevails among the African American community in Florida is resignation, and the conviction that little has changed during the last several decades. Trayvon Martin may not have been lynched for having the audacity of walking through a gated community with a hoodie on, but the verdict suggests that the only safe place for a young black male in parts of the USA is behind bars. Sad but true.

    • whodatbob

      Dominick, your first statement is on target. The verdict did not go their way. Remember when OJ was acquitted of murdering 2 white people the black community danced for joy. Happy 2 whites were murdered by a black man but upset that a black almost man was killed in self defense by a Latino (white) man. Depends who’s ox is being gored.
      The death of any young person is a very sad thing. To loose a child this way seems unbearable, I pray Trayvon’s patents will have the strength to move on but never forget all the good of Trayvon.
      He was not killed for walking through a gated community with a hoodie on, but for his decision to beat up the creepy guy who was following him. Unfortunately the creepy guy was legally carrying a gun and took legal measures to defend himself. The law does not say if the perpetrator is under 21 you can not stop him from beating you to a pulp. Once you are in fear of your life or great bodily harm you can take whatever measure you need to stop the perpetrator. Sad but true the State was unable to prove that George was the perpetrator or the instigator of the altercation. That leaves Trayvon Martin as the perpetrator.

      • highpckts

        Right on!

  • FT66

    Black people are human beings too. They were created by god like any other people of different colors. Does it really make sense to insist those unborn babies to live and not those who are on earth already? I do not want to hear again of these nonsense of abortion. It is all about what some want to dictate to others.

  • Elisabeth Gordon

    George Zimmerman may be free from behind bars, but he will never be free….this will haunt him for the rest of his days….and rightfully so.

  • Allan Richardson

    The Florida “stand your ground” law practically legalizes dueling; EXCEPT that there is no requirement that BOTH duelers be armed (dueling was about HONOR, so it required equal arms for both people). If you want to kill someone and you care nothing for honor or moraliey, get him/her ALONE and UNARMED, pick a fist fight so you get a couple of bruises, then fire away. Claim that he/she was about to beat you to death, get a good lawyer, and you’re free. And since race is not a factor in the law, black “Zimmermans” now have open season on white “Martins” if they choose to use it (just be sure you are REALLY alone and out of range of security cameras, and of course have a good lawyer).

    This would be a good marketing opportunity for Google Glass; walk through any neighborhood and be broadcasting surveillance from your own point of view to your

    Google account, and if you end up dead, the police can see for themselves that the self defense story the survivor is telling is a lie.

    • whodatbob

      See my response to Dominick. You are telling the story that the prosecution told but lacked any evidence to prove. Your theory could be, might be true and many believe it but is unproven.

      • Allan Richardson

        That would make a good Google Glass ad aimed at the very people who need that function but, sadly, cannot afford them. I am ASSUMING that the video is constantly being transmitted to Google servers, not locked up in the Glass device itself where it could be destroyed.

  • Rick2101

    American Bullies Win!

    It does not matter if you are Black, White, Hispanic, Asian, etc., this verdict illustrates that anyone can chase down anyone they want, and then poke their finger in eye of the victim, and if the victims dare to try to defend themselves, the bully can then kill them and claim “self-defense”. After all, the victim did attack them, even if it was an act of “self-defense”.

    The only difference between George Zimmerman and a schoolyard bully is that there was no adult to stop him. In the absence of any witnesses, the bully can claim anything they want and the bully usually wins. Self-defense is in the eye of the bully only.

  • rkief

    Hopefully, there will be a minimum of violence over the Zimmerman travesty of justice, but what would happen if every black athlete boycotted (refused to play) on his respective team – college or pro – for an extended time?