Verdict Doesn't End Debate in Trayvon Martin Death

By Michael Pearson. Holly Yan and AnneClaire Stapleton CNN Writers | 7/15/2013, 10:52 a.m.
They took to the streets, to radio call-in shows, to social media to vent their frustration. George Zimmerman not guilty? ...
CNN iReporter Michael Kandel followed protestors around the streets of Washington, D.C., after George Zimmerman was found 'not guilty' of second degree murder on July 13, 2013.

They took to the streets, to radio call-in shows, to social media to vent their frustration. George Zimmerman not guilty? It can't be, they said.

"Only white life is protected in America," one protester in Washington shouted Sunday, a day after a Florida jury found the Hispanic former neighborhood watch volunteer not guilty of second-degree murder in the 2012 death of African-American teenager Trayvon Martin.

But, as with all things surrounding the divisive case, not everyone shared the view that Martin was the victim, that the verdict was wrong.

While few, if any, Zimmerman supporters held rallies celebrating the verdict, on the "George Zimmerman is Innocent" Facebook page, fans were hawking T-shirts and stickers hailing Zimmerman and posting messages of encouragement.

"Thank God the jury got it right and found George not guilty," Facebook user Pete Habel posted Monday on the page.

Sunday's protests against the verdict were largely peaceful.

In Washington, protesters chanted "No justice, no peace" and "Trayvon was murdered" as they marched, freelance photographer Michael Kandel told CNN's iReport.

In New York, demonstrators marched across Manhattan and filled Times Square.

"This is what democracy looks like," they chanted.

And just steps away from the courthouse where a jury acquitted Zimmerman, Sanford, Florida, demonstrators vowed that their fight wasn't over.

"Nationwide protest to demand justice," protesters chanted.

In Los Angeles, a demonstration against the verdict grew tense late Sunday and early Monday.

Some protesters hurled flashlight batteries, rocks and chunks of concrete toward police, Los Angeles police spokesman Andrew Smith said. Police responded by shooting bean bags at protesters. Police arrested seven people, according to Officer Norma Eisenman. Five were arrested for failure to disperse, one for battery on a police officer and one on marijuana possession, she said.

On Monday, protesters were expected to gather at noon in Cleveland with bags of Skittles -- the candy that Martin had just purchased when he was killed, CNN affiliate WEWS reported.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson called for protests to continue, but to remain peaceful.

"There will be protests, but they must be carried out with dignity and discipline," he told CNN's "New Day."

"What will happen if there, in fact, are riots, it gives sympathy to Zimmerman, and discredits Trayvon. Trayvon deserves sympathy. Zimmerman and his school of thought does not."

Racial undertones

Many of the protests, including those in New York and Los Angeles, drew demonstrators from a wide variety of races. But many expressed the same belief: that Martin's death was spurred by racial profiling and that Zimmerman's acquittal was unjust.

Protesters demanded that the government investigate further, Kandel said.

"They believe that this is a civil rights issue that must become the topic of a national conversation in the coming days," he said. "They did not believe justice had been served."

The attorney for Martin's family, Benjamin Crump, renewed his call Monday for such an investigation. He said Zimmerman racially profiled Martin because he superficially resembled African-American youths who had been arrested for recent burglaries in his neighborhood.