LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — After a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, demonstrators gathered Saturday evening for a peaceful but passionate rally in Leimert Park.
“This was never a black and white issue; it was a right and wrong issue,” said Najee Ali, director of Project Islamic H.O.P.E., addressing the crowd of about 150 people.
“Being a friend of the Trayvon Martin family, I want to respect their wishes,” Ali added. “They asked that we pray for them and that we stay peaceful.”
After deliberating for more than 16 hours, the six-woman jury on Saturday acquitted Zimmerman of second-degree murder. Reactions on social media and at various public demonstrations were immediate and intense, although no incidents of violence were reported.
“As frustrated and as mad as I am right now, like you … I see this as a wake-up call,” the Rev. William D. Smart, Jr., of Christ Liberation Ministries, said. “We have to let everybody know that the value of black boys is important to us.”
Activist Simona Daniels said she respected the jury’s decision but came to Leimert Park to show her support for her community and Martin’s family.
“Racial profiling happens every single day, and unfortunately it happens a lot to African Americans,” she said. “Whether we’re in the store or whether we’re trying to get a job, we are racially profiled every day.”
Ali said he and other community activists intended to advocate for the repeal of “stand your ground” laws in at least 24 states.