Atlanta Mothers React to the Zimmerman Trial Verdict
By Lashawn Hudson Contributing Writer | 7/15/2013, 11:17 a.m.
ATLANTA — Hundreds of people gathered at West End Park to protest on Sunday after a jury of six women found the self-appointed neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, not guilty of second-degree murder and manslaughter charges after he fatally shot and killed Trayvon Martin last year.
The Atlanta Voice sought out mothers attending the rally to get their opinions on the overall message that the verdict sends to them and their families. Here are some of the responses ...
“The jury’s verdict doesn’t make sense,” said Ragenia Waddada a southwest Atlanta yoga instructor and mother of three. “It’s sobering. However, I’m not surprised. The verdict is reflective of the country that we live in. I think that’s very important that we as black people are aware that our justice system supports injustice. It’s a reminder that we can’t be complacent and comfortable. And I appreciate that. The verdict has motivated me to be proactive for change.”
Waddada further explained that the conversation she had with her 6 year-old son about the case not an easy one. “It was difficult to explain. I talked with him as we marched. I told him that a white man killed a black child, because he feared him, because he was black. And that the judicial system didn’t put Zimmerman in jail. And that we must march today to protect our children.”
Sukalia Miller of Conyers said she was appalled by the verdict and she was struggling to accept that Zimmerman is a free man.
“When I first heard the verdict it blew me away,” said Miller. “It was shocking, because I felt that it was an open-and-shut case. The jury wasn’t able to hear the 911 call. They only read the transcript. I think that played a major role in their decision. I think that Trayvon Martin was profiled before and after his death. If the jury didn’t look at the fact of marijuana being in Trayvon’s system and his body mass and (skin) color, they would’ve been able to see the facts. Trayvon was not the one on trial and those things should not have impacted the jury’s decision.”
Miller added that the case has impacted the lessons she’ll teach her 5-year-old son.
“I now have to focus on teaching my son not only how to be a man, but how to be a black man in America,” she said.
Many mothers at the rally, like Ayona Blackman of Hampton, were consumed with feelings of grief, fear and anger.
“I feel that the verdict was unfair,” Blackman said. “It took black people back by years. It makes me question the judicial system. Do they really value the life of a black child? My kids heard the verdict, and they think there’s no justice in the justice system. They think that a black teenager like them can be killed and nothing will happen to the person who killed them. I’m completely outraged by this case. Zimmerman should’ve been convicted of something. He followed, pursued and then killed Trayvon.”
Blackman added that she’s unsure about the conversations she should have with her sons about the case.
“It’s really difficult for me to tell my sons what to do if they’re confronted with a similar situation like Trayvon Martin,” said the registered nurse and mother of seven. “I can’t tell them to walk away, because that may not help. I have to tell them to protect themselves. This case proves there’s no right or wrong way. The message is so vague now.”