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Protests across US over verdict

Updated: 2013-07-22 01:41
( Agencies)

Demonstrators demand ‘justice for Trayvon', call for fresh charges

Demonstrators took to the streets in dozens of US cities on Saturday to vent their anger over the acquittal of the man who shot unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin dead and to call for federal charges in the racially tinged case.

Hundreds marched in the summer heat to rally at federal courthouses in Miami, Chicago, Los Angeles and other cities, demanding "justice for Trayvon"and an end to racial profiling, which they said was at the heart of the case.

Protests across US over verdict

Sybrina Fulton (center), mother of slain teenager Trayvon Martin, speaks beside US civil rights activist Al Sharpton (right) during a rally in New York on Saturday. Martin’s parents joined celebrities and hundreds of protesters on Saturday in rallies across the country to express anger over the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed the unarmed teenager. Carlo Allegri / Reuters

The rallies came one week after a jury in Florida found 29-year-old George Zimmerman not guilty of second-degree murder or manslaughter in the February 2012 death of Martin.

Critics contend Zimmerman, whose background is white and Hispanic, wrongly suspected Martin, 17, of being a criminal because he was black. The neighborhood watch volunteer called police to report Martin, then left his car with a loaded handgun concealed in his waistband.

A fight ensued, in which Zimmerman suffered a bloody nose and head injuries, before he shot Martin once in the heart.

Star support

In New York, scene of one of the largest rallies, roughly 2,000 protesters were led by an emotional Sybrina Fulton, the slain teenager's mother.

"Trayvon was a child,"she said. "I think sometimes it gets lost in the shuffle because as I sat in the courtroom, it made me think they were talking about another man. And it wasn't. It was a child."

"Trayvon would be proud,"she told the crowd. "Not only do I have to do what I have to do for Trayvon, I'm going to work for your children as well."

Fulton burst into tears as members of the crowd shouted, "We love you!"

She was joined at the event by hip-hop mogul Jay Z and his wife, pop star Beyonce, along with New York mayoral candidate Christine Quinn and civil rights activist Al Sharpton.

Sharpton, who helped organize the nationwide rallies, said the celebrity couple didn't want to speak at the rally but wanted to stand with Martin's family.

Civil rights leaders had voiced hopes for peaceful protests after outbreaks of violence that earlier this week led to arrests in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area.

Sharpton has said he hopes continued public pressure will force the US Department of Justice to bring federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman.

Federal prosecutors say they are investigating whether Zimmerman violated civil rights laws. But lawyers have said they think new charges are unlikely.

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