SANFORD, Fla. (AP) — THE VERDICT
George Zimmerman was found not guilty of second-degree murder in the fatal shooting last year of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. The jury had the option to consider manslaughter but declined to convict him of the lesser charge. The six jurors considered nearly three weeks of testimony and delivered the verdict late Saturday night after two days and a total of 15 hours of deliberations.
Around the country, rallies and protests were held from Saturday night through Sunday. They ranged in size from a few dozen to several hundred and were largely peaceful, with few arrests. Vandalism of a police squad car was reported at an Oakland, Calif., demonstration. Many supporters of the Martin family wore hoodies, as the teen did when he died. More protests were scheduled in various U.S. cities through Sunday evening.
The families of Zimmerman and Martin posted some reactions on Twitter on Saturday night. Zimmerman’s brother, Robert Zimmerman Jr., tweeted that he was “proud to be an American.” He also told CNN that though his brother is now free, he’ll forever be looking over his shoulder. Martin’s parents expressed disappointment. Mother Sybrina Fulton tweeted, “Lord during my darkest hour I lean on you.”
The case was covered on several Sunday morning TV talk shows, and celebrities also reacted — Beyonce took a moment of silence at a concert in Nashville. And the case was a topic at churches around the country, with many leaders urging peace in the wake of the verdict.
The judge issued an anonymity order for the six jurors during the trial. That order remains in effect, so their names have not yet been made public. Judge Debra Nelson had said she would rule on when to release the names upon the trial’s conclusion. The order does not prevent jurors from speaking to reporters now that the trial is over.
Zimmerman left the courthouse Saturday night as a free man. The NAACP has called for the Justice Department to open a civil rights case against Zimmerman. Whether that will happen remains to be seen: Though the department has a long history of using federal civil rights law in an effort to convict defendants who’ve previously been acquitted in related state cases, it’s not always easy.