The Day After: Widespread Angry Protests, Tactical Alerts, Some Vandalism, No Major Riots
Despite the worst fears of many that this morning America might wake up to a redux of a flaming Compton and Watts, so far there have been no widespread riots or looting, even if vandalism has broken out sporadically among the countrywide angry protests.
From AFP: "Americans angry at the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the death of black teen Trayvon Martin marched in US cities throughout Saturday night, with reports of sporadic acts of violence. Spontaneous marches of varying sizes erupted in cities including San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, Atlanta and Philadelphia.
Prominent rights activists like Jesse Jackson appealed for calm. "Avoid violence, it will lead to more tragedies. Find a way for self construction not deconstruction in this time of despair," he wrote on Twitter. Martin's parents have long called for non-violent demonstrations, quoting civil rights icon Martin Luther King and the Bible. Several hundred demonstrators marched peacefully amid a heavy police presence in downtown San Francisco soon after the verdict.
Many carried signs with slogans such as "The people say guilty." Hours later angry protesters marching through Oakland -- just across the bay from San Francisco -- spray-painted cars and smashed windows, helicopter video footage posted by the Oakland Tribune showed. One vandalized vehicle was a police cruiser."
The LAPD declared a citywide tactical alert overnight due to concerns of a Rodney King repeat:
The LAPD has declared a citywide tactical alert amid a protest in Leimert Park sparked by the George Zimmerman not-guilty verdict in Florida on Saturday night.
The alert initially applied only to the agency's South Bureau -- but it was expanded to include the entire city, a LAPD sergeant said. In a tactical alert, officers can be held over after their regular shifts and do not have to respond to low-priority radio calls.
LAPD Sgt. Carlton Brown said the decision was made as a precaution amid the controversial verdict. He said there have been no reports of problems at the demonstration in Leimert Park.
"We think it's going to remain that way," he said.
Brown said he heard the crowd grew to some 200 but was now starting to dissipate.
Twitter users were posting about the demonstration Saturday night in the historically black neighborhood.
"Just drove thru Leimert Park, they're having an extremely peaceful rally." wrote user @dj_RTistic. "News vans are out and a few Black cops are there to patrol it"
Elsewhere, around the country:
In Chicago, to the cry of "No justice, no peace! No racist police!" a crowd of activists held a noisy downtown rally, the Chicago Tribune reported, while protesters gathered at Times Square in New York City to vent their anger.
In Washington, dozens of mostly African-American youths marched chanting slogans in a city neighborhood. They were followed closely by patrol vehicles, an AFP journalist reported.
A crowd of several hundred gathered all day Saturday outside the courthouse in Sanford, Florida -- and many were outraged when the verdict was read.
"It's the end of our justice system," said Ashton Summer, a 20 year-old Puerto Rican. "Justice is not equal for everyone."
The ANSWER coalition, which helped organize large protest rallies during the Iraq war, said it would hold marches Sunday in seven US cities, as well as three separate ones in New York.
"We are very saddened by the jury's verdict," said Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump after the verdict was read. "The family is heartbroken."
Rights activist Al Sharpton posted a statement on Facebook describing Zimmerman's acquittal as "a slap in the face to the American people."
"We intend to ask the Department of Justice to move forward as they did in the Rodney King case and we will closely monitor the civil case against Mr. Zimmerman," said Sharpton.
Benjamin Todd Jealous, head of the NAACP, the premier US civil rights group, said his organization is "outraged and heartbroken" over the verdict.
"We will pursue civil rights charges with the Department of Justice, we will continue to fight for the removal of Stand Your Ground laws in every state, and we will not rest until racial profiling in all its forms is outlawed."
The controversial laws allow people who fear for their lives to use deadly force to defend themselves without having to flee a confrontation.
"The jury found he acted appropriately in defending his life in accordance with the law," George's brother Robert Zimmerman Jr. said on CNN.
"I think that conjecture and speculation and emotional reaction to what people think may or may not have happened has been dominating the discussion for a long time."
Robert Zimmerman however said that "there are people that would want to take the law into their own hands ... and they will always present a threat to George and his family."
And some documentary evidence courtesy of RT:
— 93.9 WKYS (@939WKYS) July 14, 2013
Riots in downtown Oakland in response to Zimmerman ruling. pic.twitter.com/T6hnQlbGKC
— Shane Bauer (@shane_bauer) July 14, 2013
— Russ Ptacek, WUSA9 (@RussPtacek) July 14, 2013
— Debora Villalon (@deboraktvu) July 14, 2013
Finally, here is George Zimmerman's brother Robert on CNN defending his brother to Piers Morgan with the counter theme: "What is Trayvon was my brother..."
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